The Fourth of July is over and summer always seems to move into fast forward. There is little down time despite school being out of session. Unfortunately the issues of children and teenagers with disabilities aren’t confined to the nine month school calendar. While always a constant in our office, this summer the requests for private residential placements by parents of students with disabilities, particularly those with mental health issues, have been constant. In our office, there seem to be many more requests for residential placements with each passing year. Parents fighting for residential placements often face many hurdles to achieving that goal. What is necessary if you are going to take on the fight with your school district to get a residential placement? Over the years, I have found that the cases where this is either won at a hearing or in a settlement share the following common elements:
- Expert testimony (e.g. psychiatrists, psychologists) who can describe and document the need for this level of restrictive setting.
- Demonstrated lack of progress academically and in other areas.
- A time line of repeated less restrictive interventions.
- Often (although not always) multiple hospitalizations.
- Well organized documents including hospital and treatment records.
- A demonstrated effort to work with the school district.
- An attorney who is knowledgeable in special education law.
- In Illinois, it is often easier if the parents are seeking an ISBE approved residential placement.
In a hearing, the parent must demonstrate that the residential placement must be primarily oriented toward enabling the child to obtain an education. Courts applying the standard look at such factors as “whether the child was placed at the facility for educational reasons and whether the child’s progress at the facility is primarily judged by educational achievement.”Share on Facebook