When and How to Seek OOD Placement: Part 2

When and How to Seek OOD Placement: Part 2

When and How to Seek OOD Placement

When a parent of a child with autism or other special needs begins their partnership with the local school district, everyone is optimistic. Maybe the first, second, or even fifth IEP meeting was productive and with good intentions, and the teachers and therapists all worked with your child’s best interests as the basis of their actions. However, every situation and child is unique, and sometimes the traditional school system is unable to provide the most successful education to your child. 

Once you have determined seeking OOD (out-of-district) placement is the right next step for your child, detailed in the previous blog in this series, you will need to begin the challenging journey of navigating the educational system to ensure your child receives the education they deserve. 

The following six steps will give you an idea of what the journey will look like, and how to prepare. 

Step 1: Gather Information and Documentation

Start by gathering all relevant information and documentation about your child’s autism diagnosis, any medical reports, past individualized education plans (IEPs), and assessments or evaluations. In addition, include progress reports and parent-teacher correspondence to track how well the IEP is serving the student’s needs. Tracking the frequency correspondence will also give the school district an idea of the amount of support the child needs.

In addition, write down any nurse’s visits, office visits, or times the student needed to leave school early to show any potential pattern of behaviors or anxiety.

All of these documents will be crucial when presenting your case for out-of-district placement.

Step 2: Communicate with the School District

Prior to any out-of-district placement, you need to exhaust the resources of the public school. Schedule a meeting with your child’s current IEP team to discuss your concerns. Clearly present evidence from assessments, evaluations, and observations that support your case that the status quo is not working. 

Review the IEP with the team to reassess your child’s needs and address any discrepancies between the current IEP and the child’s unique requirements. It is essential at this point to highlight any areas where your child’s current educational setting is failing to meet their needs adequately.

Step 3: Seek Professional Advocacy

Consider seeking the assistance of either an educational advocate or an attorney specializing in special education law. These professionals can provide invaluable support and guidance throughout a potential out-of-district placement process, ensuring your child’s rights are protected.

Typically, districts are more willing to offer out-of-district placement for those with serious behavioral concerns, or medically fragile students. For most cases, hiring an attorney will be necessary for a district to offer financial support for OOD placement. 

Step 4: Pursue Due Process, If Necessary

If your attempts to secure an OOD placement through the IEP process are unsuccessful, you have the right to pursue due process. This involves filing a formal complaint in writing to the Board of Education 10 days before any switch in schools, and attending resulting mediation or a hearing. 

For this, it is essential to have strong evidence, expert witnesses, and legal representation during this process. The hearing officer will use all evidence presented to determine whether or not the school district is equipped to provide your child with a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Step 5: Visit Potential Placements

If a school district has approved an out-of-district placement, visit the potential schools or facilities to assess their suitability for your unique child. Observe classrooms, meet teachers and staff, and inquire about any support services they offer. 

Once you select a school, you will need to collaborate with their team to create a transition plan. This plan will include information about your child’s strengths, challenges, and strategies to support a smooth transition.

Step 6: Monitor Progress and Stay Involved

Once your child begins their OOD placement, remain actively involved in their education. Regularly communicate with teachers and therapists, attend school meetings, and monitor your child’s progress. Regular updates and ongoing collaboration are essential for ensuring your child’s continued success.

Securing OOD placement for your child requires persistence, patience, and thorough preparation. By gathering the right information, seeking professional support, and advocating for your child’s needs, you can create a nurturing and supportive educational environment that enables your child to thrive and reach their full potential. If you are considering removing your student from the public school system, reach out to find out what our schools have to offer.



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