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Frequently Asked Questions

Will my child's Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 plan transfer if he changes schools?

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YES. When a child changes public school districts within the same state and in the same school year with an IEP in effect, the new district becomes responsible for providing services like those described in the previous IEP. The new school should work with the child's parent(s) or legal guardian(s), until they can evaluate the student and develop a new IEP that meets the requirements of federal and state law.i The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires that the new school must do its best to obtain the child's records, including the IEP and supporting documentation, from the previous school.ii

If a child changes schools from one state to another, however, things are different. IDEA does not require the school in the new state to accept the education plan from the old school, but it does have to provide an evaluation and develop a new plan. The new school district does not have to provide exactly the same services--but it does have to provide matching services. If the parent or guardian and the district cannot agree on what these matching services are, they can work with a mediator or follow due process procedures. This sometimes can mean going to court to resolve the disagreement. Additionally, the Local Educational Agency (LEA) is obligated to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all eligible students until the new public school district:

  • Conducts an evaluationiii and
  • Develops, adopts and implements a new IEP, if appropriate, that meets applicable requirements.iv

The Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require sending student disciplinary information when the child transfers from one school to another. However, if a state requires its schools to include disciplinary statements in student records, those disciplinary statements can include a description of any behavior that required disciplinary action, a description of the disciplinary action taken, and any other information important to the safety of the child and other people involved with the child. Disciplinary actions that involved weapons, drugs or serious bodily injury could be included in these descriptions.

Procedures for Section 504-only students are similar to the above. However the requirements for implementing Section 504 are less specific than those of the special education laws outlined under IDEA, thus implementation is not always consistent from district to district and state to state. When seeking a transfer of a Section 504 plan to a new school, it is recommended that a child's parent(s) or guardian request a copy of the new school district's policies and procedures surrounding Section 504 in order to have a better understanding of what to expect. Please contact your child's school guidance counselor for further guidance on who to contact at your child's school to obtain this information.

i 20 USC 1414 (d)(2)(C)(i)(II).
ii FERPA. 34 CFR 300.323 (g)(1).
iii Pursuant to 34 CFR 300.304 through 34 CFR 300.306 (if determined to be necessary by the new public agency).
iv See 34 CFR 300.320 through 34 CFR 300.324 for more details.

Created: July 2014
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