Your Child’s Transition to a New School with an IEP or 504 Plan
Getting your child’s individualized education plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan set up meant he would have individualized instruction, extra test-taking time, or homework assignments that would accommodate his ADHD symptoms. But now he’s changing schools—maybe you’re moving to a different town or state, or maybe he’s transitioning from elementary school to middle school. When your child is enrolling in a new school, what do you need to do to make sure the IEP or 504 is still effective?
The US Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) established guidelines for how IEPs are set up and maintained, while Section 504, which was created as part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a civil rights statute. Both are clear about what happens when a child switches schools.
If your child is staying in the same school district
If your child will be a student in the same school district as the one she has been attending, her IEP or 504 Plan will travel with her. It’s still a good idea to set aside time before the start of the school year to meet with the new school’s IEP coordinator, special educator coordinator or team leader, psychologist or guidance counselor, and any other professionals who will help ensure the IEP or 504 is implemented throughout your child’s time at the school.
If you’re moving within the same state
If you’re leaving the school district but staying in the same state, the new school will want to conduct its own evaluation of your child. Until that happens, the school is required to carry over his pre-existing IEP or 504 Plan. When registering your child at his new school, submit your request in writing for a new academic evaluation to begin the IEP or 504 Plan process.
If your child is starting school in a new state
Like staying in state but switching districts, children who start school in a new state are guaranteed an education that meets their needs. That means that until a new evaluation is completed, your child’s needs will be met according to her old IEP or 504 Plan until a new plan is completed and put into place. It’s important to keep in mind that just because she has had a plan in the past does not mean her new school’s assessment will also find that she needs one. It is possible to appeal a decision if the new school does not provide an academic plan.
You might want to contact your new state’s director of special education as well as your state’s Parent Training and Information Center for information about guidelines in your child’s new school district. Be sure to reach out to the school as soon as you know you’ll be moving so you’re not scrambling the day before school starts, and schedule a time to visit the school with your child. When you do get to the school, you’ll want to have on hand any records, reports, and evaluations relating to your child’s previous education plan. The new school is responsible for requesting a copy of the pre-existing IEP or 504 Plan, but it’s a good idea to follow up later and make sure the school has received it.
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