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

Are you a parent of a child who has autism, learning disabilities, or other physical disabilities and is struggling to get the child the best special education possible? Is it true that IEP (individual educational plan) meetings can be attended by special education personnel who have already made decisions about the placement of your child or services they will provide. This article will focus on predetermination, specialeducation, and the ways to overcome this.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act(IDEA) provides that all children have the right for free, appropriate public education (FAPE). Parents have the right of participation in all education decisions for their child. If they are willing to modify the IEP in order to allow parents input, special education personnel can bring a draft IEP.

Predetermination means school personnel making unquestioned decisions about a child in advance of the IEP meeting. Or school district personnel making a “take it or go it” IEP. If a parent provides evidence that a child requires a specific related or special education service, and if the parent has provided information, the school district personnel are required at most to “consider” this input. The problem is that special education personnel often have already determined or predetermined which placements or services will be offered.

In a well-known predetermination case, the court found that a school district had an unexplained policy of denying all requests to Applied Behavioral Analysis program (ABA) despite evidence that a student required it. In this case, the parents had to pay for a private ABA program that saw the child make incredible progress. The child’s achievements were celebrated by the school district, but the parents then asked for reimbursement. The court found the school district had refused to hear the parents and their experts regarding the child’s need. This was predetermination. Courts ruled that parents could receive reimbursement for private ABA programs.

In another case, the court found out that even though the child was making progress in a private school and needed to continue receiving the services, the district school placed the child at the private school. They were currently working on a plan that would transition him to a District-based school. They refused the parents’ or experts’ suggestion that the child must continue to attend the private school for FAPE. The court found that this was predetermination. Therefore, the child was allowed to continue attending the private school at their own expense.

Predetermination, in my opinion, is when a school district decides unilaterally about a child’s education despite all evidence and refuses to take meaningful parental input. If parents are given a take-it or leave-it IEP.

How to overcome the predetermination

1. Bring documentation of your child’s educational requirements to the IEP meeting. Special education personnel will need it. Schools must accept all information.

2. Parents must take part in the IEP process. The court will inform special education personnel that parents must be allowed to meaningfully participate in the IEP process.

3. If you still have concerns about special education personnel refusing to let you in or giving only one choice for services or placements, file a state complaint under the IDEA.

4. For your child’s special education needs, you should have an Independent Educational Evaluation performed (IEE) The evaluator should not only be able to test your child, but will also provide detailed and concise recommendations that include special education and related services.

Predetermination is detrimental for children with disability because it deprives them of the services they need. Continue advocating for your child. It’s worth it!