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(9.18) How will a court-ordered residential placement for my child be different from an IEP placement?

(9.18) How will a court-ordered residential placement for my child be different from an IEP placement?

If your child is a dependent or a ward of the court, the court, not you, will make the decision where to place your child. The court, at its discretion, may allow you to retain educational rights so that you may participate in the IEP process at the residential site if your child is in special education. As part of the dependency process, you may lose your parental rights for the duration of the placement.

There is a critical difference in the financial responsibility for the cost of the placement. A placement through the IEP process is at no cost to the parent. A court placement is at the cost of the court. However, the court must seek reimbursement from the parents in the form of a support order based upon the court’s determination of the parents’ ability to pay. [Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code Sec. 903.] This may result in a substantial financial burden to any parent, unless the family income is minimal. If the residential placement was needed for educational purposes, these actions would violate the “at no cost” requirement of federal law. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401(9)(A) and 1401(29).]

If your child is placed in residential treatment through the IEP process, all student and parental rights and protections guaranteed by law will be available to you.  No placement or services can be provided to your child without your approval and written consent.

Responsibility for implementing the IEP of a court-placed child is with the school district where the child is placed, not the parent’s district. The responsibility for an IEP-placed child is with the district that made the placement, which typically is the parent’s school district and/or county.