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

If you are a parent of a child with autism or learning disabilities, or a physical handicap, have you been trying to get your child the right special education? Are you adamant that the IEP meetings are arranged so that special education personnel can make decisions about your child’s placement and services? This article will discuss predetermination and special education and how to overcome it.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that every child has the right of free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. All decisions regarding the education of their child are up to parents. A draft IEP may be brought by special education personnel to the meeting. However, they must agree to amend the IEP to allow parental input.

Predetermination refers to school personnel making unilateral decisions regarding a child prior to the IEP meeting without parental input and refusing parental input during the meeting. Or school district personnel who present an IEP that is either take it or not. School district personnel must at least “consider” a parent’s request for special education services or related information. Problem is, many special education personnel already know or have predetermined the placements or services that will be offered.

A well-known predetermination case revealed that a school district had an informal policy of denying requests for Applied Behavioral Analysis programs (ABA) programs, despite evidence that a child needed it. The parents paid for a private ABA course that the child made great progress in. The child made great progress and the school district was thrilled about it until the parents requested reimbursement. After that, they refused to pay. The court found that neither the parents nor their experts were able to convince the school district of the child’s need. This was predetermination, and the courts ruled in favor of the parents who were entitled to reimbursement for private ABA programs.

Another predetermination case found that, despite the evidence that a child was making significant progress at a private school and still needed the services offered by the private school, the school district placed the child in the school because they were developing a plan to transfer him to a district-based placement. They refused to listen or to the experts of the parents and decided that the child had to remain at the private school in order to receive FAPE. The court ruled that this was predetermination and the child could continue attending the private school at public cost.

Predetermination is when a school district unilaterally decides about a child’s education, despite evidence to that contrary, and refuses parental input. Parents are also presented with a Take it or Leave it IEP.

How to overcome predetermination

1. Send documentation about your child’s education needs to the IEP meeting. Share it with special education personnel. Schools must take all information.

2. Parents should be involved in the IEP process. Special education personnel should be informed of court rulings so that they can relay them to the appropriate authorities.

3. Consider filing a state complaint if special education personnel refuse to give you input, or only offer one option for services/placement.

4. To determine the special and related education services that your child requires, have an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). You want to make sure the evaluator that you choose is willing to not only test your child, but also to provide a detailed and concise report with recommendations for special education services.

Predetermination can be harmful to children with disabilities. It prevents them from receiving the services they need. Your child’s welfare is important.