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Legal Memorandum: Student's Educational Placement by an IEP

Issue: Is an IEP required to establish and justify a student’s educational placement as the least restrictive environment?

Area of Law: Education Law
Keywords: Student's educational placement; Individualized Education Program; Least restrictive environment
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: N.J.A.C. § 6A:14-1.3
Date: 01/01/2007

The NJAC clearly requires an IEP to establish and justify a student’s educational placement as the least restrictive environment:

  • N.J.A.C. § 6A:14-1.3 (emphasis added)

An Individualized Education Program is defined as “written plan which sets forth present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, measurable annual goals and short-term objectives or benchmarks and describes an integrated, sequential program of individually designed instructional activities and related services necessary to achieve the stated goals and objectives. This plan shall establish the rationale for the student’s educational placement, serve as the basis for program implementation and comply with the mandates set forth in this chapter.”

See C.V. v. Princeton Reg’l Bd. of Educ., OAL Dkt. No. EDS 106-03 (2003):

J.V. was a nine-year-old autistic child.  After evaluating the child, the child study team believed that day placement was appropriate, offering three possible day programs in a draft IEP for the parents to consider.  They never definitively offered a particular day program in the IEP.  The parents inspected the day programs proposed, but consistently insisted on residential placement.  The District never offered an IEP complete with a chosen day program.  The parents filed due process alleging the district denied FAPE by offering a day placement rather than residential placement. 

The OAL acknowledged, at least implicitly, that the IEP was not complete because the district never offered a specific day placement in the IEP.  Rather, the district proposed three potential day programs in a “draft” IEP.  […]

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