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Alternative Services and Settings

Each district and AEA has a duty to ensure a continuum of services is available to meet the unique needs of each learner with disabilities. In addition to regular classes and special classes within the school, a district’s continuum must include special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions. A variety of circumstances may arise which result in the need for an IEP team to address the placement and services of an eligible student in order to meet the unique needs of the learner.

In general, when an eligible individual requires instructional services in a setting outside of their school, the district where the learner is being educated is responsible to provide or make arrangements for the delivery of the instruction. The resident district is financially responsible for the instruction and the AEA where the learner is being educated is responsible for any support services.

Additionally, parents have the right to request their student receive their education in a setting other than the resident district, such as open enrollment, competent private instruction (known as Home Schooling), and/or enrollment at accredited non-public schools.

NOTE: Situations may arise when a learner was not identified as an eligible individual prior to the need for education in a setting other than the regular classroom. In these situations, a determination must be made as to whether considering eligibility for special education is appropriate. If special education eligibility is a consideration, all of the appropriate Child Find procedures must be followed.

Billing and Contracting Services

LEAs and AEAs must address billing and contracting matters for eligible learners who are receiving their special education services in settings and/or districts outside the resident district of the student.

Special Schools and State Institutions

When students are placed in special school settings or state institutions, IEP teams work collaboratively with the districts and AEAs involved to ensure special education services are provided.

Adult Correctional Facilities

When a learner is incarcerated in an adult corrections facility, LEA and AEA teams work collaboratively with the Iowa Department of Corrections to ensure the delivery of special education services.

Hospital and Home Settings

When an eligible learner has a physical, mental health, or medical condition which precludes their participation in the general and special education setting or related facilities, the IEP team may need to consider homebound and/or hospital services to meet the learner’s needs.

Shelters and Detention Facilities

An Area Education Agency (AEA) shall provide or make provision for an appropriate educational program for each learner living in an approved or licensed shelter care home or approved juvenile detention facilities located within its boundaries.

For learners in shelters and detention facilities, AEAs are required to:

  • Establish policies and procedures for screening and evaluating learners who may require special education services within shelter and detention facilities;
  • Ensure adherence to procedural safeguards and the requirements of special education as outlined in Iowa Administrative Code; and
  • Coordinate the activities of the special education program with other programs and services provided.

Appropriate support service professionals shall be assigned by the AEA in which the program is located. The AEA professionals shall have the necessary qualifications to:

  • Identify learners for whom a disability is suspected
  • Assist in the completion of full and individual initial evaluations and reevaluations
  • Assist in IEP development
  • Assist in the implementation of needed special education programs

Out-of-State Placement

In rare situations, an IEP team may need to consider an out-of-state placement to address a learner's unique needs when appropriate special education services are not available within the state.

Open Enrollment

In Iowa, parents may request their student attend a district other than their district of residence through the open enrollment process. However, when the learner is an eligible individual and is receiving special education services and supports, additional steps must be completed to ensure a FAPE for the learners.

Competent Private Instruction (Home Schooling)

In Iowa, parents have multiple options when they wish to educate their children at home including Competent Private Instruction (CPI) and Independent Private Instruction (IPI). Parents of eligible individuals will need to consider if and/or how their child will receive special education services and supports.

Accredited Nonpublic Schools (Private Schools)

Accredited nonpublic schools are private schools, including religious schools, or facilities that meet the accreditation standards of the Iowa Department of Education. Eligible individuals who are enrolled in a nonpublic school may receive special education or related services from a public agency (AEA or LEA).

Unilateral Placement by Parents

For additional information visit our Unilateral Placement by Parents page.