If your child requires an Individualized Education Program (or IEP), then you’ve probably been through the ringer a couple of times, and the gravity of your own decisions on the life of your child probably isn’t lost on you. If you’re experiencing a transition in your life, and that change affects your child as well, it can become a real hassle, and sometimes you won’t have the right answers at the right time. So what happens to your child’s IEP when they switch schools? It’s not all bad news.
First and foremost, your child’s IEP will not change if you’re switching to a new school within the same district. Whichever IEP you initially chose, it was a pact between you and the district in which you reside. No change in district means there is no change in the pact. Congratulations.
If you find that you need to move farther away, for example from California to NYC, and commuting to the old school district becomes impossible, then you probably will need a new IEP for the new school district, especially if it is in a new state. Fortunately, every state uses the same IEP terminology, even if that state has different rules that are applied to it. In the case that you move, you just need to do a little bit more research to find out about what’s available where you are and how different it is from what you already had.
If you switch to a different district in the same state, that district will ultimately decide how to handle the transition for your child’s IEP. It can choose to continue providing the resources for the current IEP, or it can choose to offer a new one that hopefully both parties will find amenable. Even if the new district decides to offer a new IEP, you can choose to be a part of the process or not. It’s up to you to do what you find is best for your child’s continuing education.
The problem with moving to a different state is law. Each state regulates education differently, and although those differences can be subtle at times, chances are you’ll find some of the details will change your child’s ability to maintain a place within the program at all. If the state rules regarding IEP find that your child is not eligible, there is not much you can do. It’s up to the school district to decide whether or not the child qualifies, and if he or she does, then they may also decide to offer a new evaluation for a new IEP. No matter the state, you’re still a part of the process if you choose to be.
The bottom line is this: moving might impact your child’s education in a big way, and it’s important to research how any potential moves can affect both of you long-term.