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When an Out-of-State Placement is Necessary

Due to the unique needs of an individual, an IEP team may need to consider out-of-state placement options to appropriately meet the individual’s needs. However, prior to considering an out-of-state placement, the IEP team must consider any appropriate educational programs which are located closer to an eligible individual’s residence than an out-of-state placement.

When it is determined that appropriate services to meet the individual’s needs are not available within the state, or when services in an adjoining state are closer than those available in Iowa, the director may certify an eligible individual for appropriate special education and related services outside the state. Prior to placement out of state, the Iowa Department of Education must determine that the special education and related services meet the standards set forth in the Iowa Rules of Special Education.

Funds generated through the weighting plan for special education instructional services can be used to provide special education instruction in out-of-state placements. Itinerant instructional services and special education consultant services shall utilize special education support service funds for out-of-state placements.

Determining Out-of-State Placement

It is the responsibility of the AEA and LEA to participate in the development of the individual’s IEP in an out-of-state placement, as well as to prepare for the student’s transition back to the Iowa district the student was attending prior to the out-of-state placement.

The IEP team must:

  • Meet to review data and determine the need for an out-of-state placement.
  • Develop an IEP which documents the special education services and supports for the student and a transition plan to prepare for the eligible individual’s transition back to services within Iowa.
  • Provide the parent(s) with prior written notice to inform the parent of the proposed out-of-state placement. The notice must document the educational options within the state the team explored and discussed and determined inappropriate.
  • Submit a copy of the completed IEP to the AEA Director of Special Education for approval, as well as the Request for Department of Education Approval and the Addendum.
  • The AEA Director of Special Education will then request out-of-state approval from the Bureau of Learner Strategies and Supports at the Department of Education.
  • Upon approvals, the student will be placed in the out-of-state placement.

Requesting Approval of Funds for Students Placed Out-of-State

Approval by the Iowa Department of Education is required for contracts negotiated with out-of-state agencies for the provision of special education services. To secure approval and arrange for educational costs to be paid by a local school district the following steps occur: 

  1. The referring local district or agency (County Juvenile Court or County Department of Human Service) will send a copy of the court order, if available, for court-ordered placements to the Director of Special Education of the local AEA.
  2. Forms from the Iowa Department of Education requesting out-of-state approval are signed by the AEA Director of Special Education (or designee) and the local school district’s superintendent and are then forwarded to the Iowa Department of Education.
  3. After the Iowa Department of Education review, a letter will be sent to the AEA Director of Special Education with a decision to approve or not approve the request following their investigation of the proposed placement.
  4. An AEA designee will forward the copies of the approval letter to the local school district’s superintendent, and send a letter to the initial referring agency notifying the agency of their decision.

Ongoing Responsibilities for Students Placed Out-of-State

When the eligible student is in the out-of-state placement, the Iowa LEA/AEA are required to:

  • Continuously follow-up of the student’s IEP progress, which includes progress monitoring reports that will be documented and maintained in the student’s LEA file;
  • Participate in IEP meetings via telephone conferencing, video conferencing, or physical presence by LEA staff and/or AEA staff. Resident district representatives must be invited to all IEP meetings; and
  • Document an annual IEP review and ensure copies of the current IEP are maintained in the resident district files.