Legal Memorandum: Purpose of the Stay Put Provision

Issue: What is the purpose of the ‘stay put’ provision in the context of the Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act (IDEIA)?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Education Law
Keywords: Stay-put provision; Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act (IDEIA); Status quo
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 78 F.3d 859
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2014

“Neither the statute nor the legislative history provides guidance for a reviewing court on how to identify ‘the then current educational placement.'” Drinker v. Colonial Sch. Dist., 78 F.3d 859, 865 n.13 (3d Cir. 1996).  The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that “[f]or the purpose of § 1415(j)’s ‘stay put’ provision, the current educational placement is typically the placement described in the child’s most recently implemented IEP [Individualized Education Program].”  Johnson ex rel. Johnson v. Special Educ. Hearing Office, State of Cal., 287 F.3d 1176, 1180 (9th Cir. 2002). 

The purpose of the stay-put provision is to maintain the status quo.  It seeks to prevent the school district from unilaterally denying a student placement while a dispute over the placement is pending.  “The stay-put provision entitles the student to receive a placement that, as closely as possible, replicates the placement that existed at the time the dispute arose,” even taking into account changed circumstances that make it impossible to exactly duplicate the status quo for purposes of “staying put.”  Van Scoy v. San Luis Coastal Unified Sch. Dist., 353 F. Supp. 2d 1083, 1086 (C.D. Cal. 2005) (finding “the placement that as closely as possible replicates that which Matthew was receiving at the time the dispute arose includes 120 minutes daily with a BHS aide outside of the classroom,” and concluding that “the plaintiff has shown probable success on the merits of his claim”).


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