Predetermination in Special Education – What Can You Do About It?

Are you a parent of an autistic child, learning disabled, or someone with a physical disability who has struggled to get their child the appropriate special education? Is it possible that special education staff come to Individual Educational Plan meetings with a predetermined decision about your child’s placement or needs? This article will address predetermination, special educational, and solutions.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA), states that children have the right to free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Parents are entitled to participate in any decisions that affect their child’s education. The meeting may allow special education personnel to bring a draft IEP, but only if they are open to changing the IEP to include parental input.

Predetermination can be defined as school personnel making unilateral decisions concerning a child before an IEP meeting. This is done without parental input. Or school district staff presenting an “take it or leave it” IEP. School district personnel will consider the input of parents who bring information about their child’s special needs and provide evidence to support it. Many special education personnel are already pre-determined or determined what services or placements will be offered.

In a well-known case of predetermination, the court determined that a school district had an inexplicable policy of denying any request for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). This was despite evidence that a child requested it. In this case, the parents paid for a private ABA class that made the child’s progress remarkable. The progress of the child was exciting to the school district until the parents demanded reimbursement. They refused. The court found that the school district refused to listen to parents or their experts about the child’s needs for ABA. This was predetermination. The courts ruled that parents were entitled to reimbursement for private ABA.

Another case involving predetermination found that even though evidence showed that a child was making good progress at a school private, and that the child still required the services of the private school, the district had only placed him in the private school while they worked on a plan for transitioning him to a school district-based placement. They refused to hear the parents or their experts and said that the child should continue attending the private school to receive FAPE. The court ruled in favor of the child and allowed him to continue at the private school at his own expense.

My opinion is that predetermination occurs when a school makes unilateral decisions regarding a child’s education, despite the evidence, and refuses to listen to parents. When parents are presented with a “take it or leave it” IEP.

How to overcome predetermination

1. Bring documentation of your child’s educational needs to the IEP Meeting and share it with special education personnel. Schools will consider all information provided by parents.

2. Parents must participate in the IEP development process. You should relay the court rulings to special educators. If a parent is not allowed to participate in the development and implementation of their child’s IEP then predetermination or denial of FAPE could be made.

3. If you are still not allowed to speak up or if the special education staff refuses to provide an option for placement or services, then consider filing a complaint against the state for violating IDEA.

4. An Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE), is performed on your child in order to determine which special education services and related programs your child requires. It is important that the evaluator who you select is available to perform a thorough and concise evaluation of your child. This report should include recommendations for related special education services.

Predetermination is bad for children with disabilities. This is because it prevents children from receiving the services they require. It is worth advocating for your child!

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