Toolbox Tuesday!! When to propose a change of placement….

Do you ever think about what time of the school year might be the optimal time to propose a change of placement for a student?  Of course there is no such thing.  Educators should propose a change when it’s the right thing to do, regardless of what season we are in. But in the Toolbox Training, a full day program focused on serving students with disabilities, we discuss the implications of making such a proposal too soon or too late.

This mostly comes up when we are discussing Tool #3—an Educational Change of Placement Without Parental Agreement.  When the parent disagrees with the proposed change, the district has to be prepared to defend its decision in a due process hearing. And it should consider how the “stay put” rule will come into play.

If the move is to an MRE (More Restrictive Environment) the district needs to show that it has made a good faith and consistent effort to serve the student in a less restrictive environment. Has the district met with the parents to brainstorm solutions? Has the administration looked for additional supplementary aids and services that might help the teacher? Have we given this placement a fair trial? Enough time to get past the rough patches? Thus when we are early in the fall semester it is usually too soon to seek a change.

When considering a change of placement that the parent does not support you always have to consider the “stay put” rule, but this is perhaps even more important in the spring semester. Consider: if the parent requests a due process hearing to halt a proposed change of placement in April, or even March, chances are very good that the hearing will not be concluded until after the end of the school year.  The “stay put” rule will keep the student in the current placement for the remainder of the year. Do you really want to have that fight?  It might be wiser to propose a change to take effect with the next school year.

Let me reiterate: you should propose a change of placement when it’s the right thing to do, but these are some factors that you should think about.  In the Toolbox Training, we walk through some scenarios that give you the opportunity to reflect on such matters.


Tomorrow: when are the parents the “prevailing parties” in special education litigation?