IEPs and School Transfers

New teen female studentIDEA provides guidelines for a child with a disability transferring to another school in or out of district within the same state or out of state. The guidelines are specific as to the child’s right to have a free appropriate public education with services that are comparable to those in the previous IEP. It is important that the parents get copies of school records for their files, check with the new and existing schools to be sure the transfer request is made, make sure all records related to special or related services are included, and follow up with both schools if the transfer is not completed in a timely manner.

Transferring within the same state

When it is necessary for a child with a disability to transfer to a different school in the same district or a school in a different district in the same state, the IDEA 2004 requires the following:

“In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP in effect in the same state, the LEA (school district) shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents, until such time as the school district adopts the previous IEP or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that is consistent with Federal and State law.”

Note: If the child enrolls in a new school district in the same city, it is helpful if the child’s special education teacher can attend the IEP meeting in the new school. If the child’s evaluation is still current, it would not be necessary to do a new evaluation unless either the parent or the district believes it to be necessary.

Transferring to another state

When it is necessary for a child with a disability to transfer to a school in another state, the IDEA 2004 requires the following:

“In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP that was in effect in another state, the school district shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previous IEP, in consultation with the child’s parents, until such time as the district conducts an evaluation, if determined to be necessary, and develops a new IEP, if appropriate, that is consistent with Federal and State law.”

Note: An evaluation could be necessary in this situation since the child is now in a different state whose requirements for an evaluation may be different than those of the state in which the child lived previously. The IEP from the previous school district would remain in place until an evaluation could be completed.

Transfer of records

  • Before the student is transferred to the new school, it is very important for parents to get complete copies of all school records.
  • It is suggested that the parents check with the new school to make sure the record transfer request has been sent to the previous school and then call the previous school to make sure they received the request. The parents should ask for the date that the records were/will be sent to the new school.
  • The records must include the IEP and all other records necessary to provide special education or related services to the child.
  • If the student’s records have not been received by the new school within two weeks, the parents should call both schools and quickly get the record transfer completed to prevent any delay in services required by the student’s IEP.
  • The State may require that a local educational agency include in the records of a child with a disability a statement of any current or previous disciplinary action that has been taken against the child and transmit such statement to the same extent that such disciplinary information is included in, and transmitted with, the student records of nondisabled children.


  • Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition; Operating Standards, Ohio 2008.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, P.L. 108-446, 20 U.S.C. 613 (h)(2)(i)


  1. Dontay Tinsley says:

    I need help findin special iep learning center…. Any on programs in Chesterfield Va

  2. Ebenezer Prabha says:

    Where can I get a lesson plan for learning disability

  3. nowel amari says:

    my son is in 10th grade and going to 11 th grade. he was hit by a car by his school and was home schooling for a year. he can go back to school in septemebr but he refuses to go back to the same school. i don’t know what to do because its a really good school but i don’t want him to get frustrated every time he goes to that school, i am also afraid if he can’t adopt to the new one,of course if they let him transfer. please i need someone to help me with this issue.

  4. Roberta DeAngelo says:

    My son recently transferred schools within the same district and is currently in the third grade. We had an iep in place at the prior school but when I spoke to his teacher, he wasn’t aware of my son’s behaviors or needs. I was told that what they plan on doing is not what was in the iep. I am a little irritated and feel like he is once again lost on the system. Is this allowed when my child has am iep?

    • Teachers (regular Ed.) aren’t given anything but the sheet of the IEP that details accommodations. We aren’t allowed to know the the diagnosis due to privacy issues. They also donor allow us to look at their file to see what issues they may be having.
      It’s ridiculous.

      • You should be given the students’ profile sheets, which includes the plop, which has all of the information that you mentioned above, the accommodations, and it is also a good idea to give you the goals sheet. That way you will know what the targets are when you and the special educator are planning together. I’m not sure why you are not informed of the child’s needs if you are the regular educator for that child. You should know what category of disability the child is and what learning deficits they have in order to assist in addressing those needs. Your special education teacher should be sharing these things with you as you both address the student’s needs.

    • If this is the situation with your child, then his school is out of compliance. If the teachers deem that he needs additional assistance for intervention purposes or additional accommodations, then an IEP meeting needs to be held for the development of an addendum. However, they are required and it is mandated BY LAW that they follow your son’s IEP. You have due process and if you feel some injustice with your son’s services, you can take them to court. You also need to ask them for a copy of the Rights and Procedural Handbook that you are required to have. Your rights as a parent are provided in this book and will guide you through how to advocate for your child to make sure he is receiving all of his services.

  5. My son is in kindergarten he is autistic and the school he’s currently going to is beyond amazing and has detailed plans for him and he has progressed extremely well. Now we are moving to another city and district and the school is not good. What if they don’t follow the same iep plan can they transfer him to a better school within the same district?

    • Kourtne – we are going through the same situation. My son is Kinder and will be moving within the next couple of months, but the new school is not as great. I am doing research right now, so if I get any info, I will post.

  6. dale dempsey says:

    What if I transfer my specials needs child during the summer to a different state or school district during the summer? Since technically that’s not the same school year, even though I will already have an eval and IEP for the next school, how is the school required to handle that situation?

    Maybe I should transfer the child during the last week of school to keep the mandate.

  7. My son is in early childhood with an IEP. We moved out of district months ago but decided to keep the kids in the same school M till next school year. We notified school M of this and everything remained fine. Then school M called and said I need permission from the district we currently live (S) in to allow him to finish this year before transferring next year cause they (S) will have to reimburse School M for his IEP. A few days later school M called and said they got permission from School S. Today school M calls and says I have to transfer my son now to school S with one month left of school because they can not give him services for his IEP since we moved and can not write goals to transfer with him to School S either. There is a month left and I am getting the run around. Can they do this?

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