Time Sensitive Notice for Parents of Students Enrolled in Private Schools Without a Contract Between the Private School and the School District

Until recently, it was assumed that if a student had an annual IEP and remained living in the school district who prepared the annual IEP, the local school district would automatically schedule the next annual IEP meeting.

As a result of language in a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in a decision issued on December 30,  2021, Capistrano Unified School District v. S.W. and C.W., on behalf of their minor child, B.W. (2021 WL 6196698) school districts will now be taking a different position with regard to holding annual IEP meetings for certain children.  School districts will be taking the position that if a child is in a private school because the child was placed in the private school by the parent and not the school district, NO annual IEP will be held unless the Student’s parents have made a timely written request for an annual IEP.

This is a substantial change in the way annual IEP meetings are scheduled for students who are placed by their parents in private schools.  The school district will NOT be sending such parents notice of an annual IEP meeting and will not hold an annual IEP meeting unless the parent makes a written request for the meeting.  This is true even if the parent disagreed with the last IEP and is in what is commonly called due process with regard to such disagreement.

For this reason, if you are the parent of a student with an existing IEP who you have placed in a private school, if you want to preserve your child’s rights under federal and state law, including the right to financial reimbursement for the school the child is attending, you must make a formal written request for an annual IEP meeting to be held for the upcoming school year.  This is true even if you disagreed with the last IEP and are pursuing due process with regard to such disagreement.

If you do not request an annual IEP meeting, the school district will assert it had no obligation to hold such a meeting and your child will arguably have lost all rights under special education law.

We have created a request of an annual IEP template you can consider using for your request.  It is advised that you be able to prove it was sent either by hand-delivering the document and requesting acknowledgment of receipt on a copy or by any other method that will provide proof of sending and receipt.  In larger school districts, the letter should be sent to the Principal of the school your child would be attending if attending a public school.  In smaller school districts, it can be sent to the Director of Special Education.  In any case, it must be sent to a school district employee in a position of responsibility for the implementation of special education laws.  However you prepare the letter, we strongly suggest you include your name(s), address, emails, telephone numbers and date on which it was sent.

We are suggesting people get this request out by March 1 of each year but, in any case, April 1 of each year so that there is time for the IEP process to be completed before the end of the school year in which it was sent.


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