Placement options

You may have to make decisions about your child's placement.

This means the school or type of classroom where they'll be.

You and the IEP team will decide this, based on your child's needs. You may decide right after the IEP meeting, or you may need to meet again. If the school suggests a placement that you don't think is a good fit for your child, you don't have to accept it.

The goals of the IDEA are to have all students:

  1. Get a free education that meets their unique needs (FAPE: Free and Appropriate Public Education)

  2. Be with typical (non-disabled) classmates as much as possible (LRE: Least Restrictive Environment)

These are not just "nice things to do". The school districts are required to place students in the LRE, and ensure that their education meets their needs.

Click the boxes below to read about the different types of placements:



General education classroom:

  • A typical classroom with non-disabled peers is always the first choice.

  • The team might refer to this as the least restrictive environmentThey'll consider other options only if this setting cannot meet your child’s needs.

  • There may be special ed teachers who work with the regular teacher to give extra support to all kids.

  • Your child may leave the classroom at certain times to work one-on-one with a specialist.

In-District vs. Out-of-district: 

  • An in-district placement is when your child is in a regular public school in your town. If they are not in a general education classroom, they could be in a special needs classroom, but still in the district.

  • If the choices above do not meet your child’s needs, the team will work together to find an out-of-district placement. This is usually a classroom in a special school or program. (See below for more about special schools.)


Again: the school must place students in the Least Restrictive Environment that meets their needs.

So the first choice is full inclusion, but only if that works for your child.

In a regular public school (In-District), the type of classroom depends on how often your child will leave the regular classroom to get special services.


Inclusion means your child is in a regular classroom: they are included with typical kids who don't have disabilities.

Substantially separate classroom: a specialized classroom where all students have disabilities. This usually has a small number of kids, at least 1 special education teacher and other aides.

Sources: MA DESE, FCSN

If a typical school would not help your child meet their goals, you may need to look into a school for children with special needs.


What to know about 766 Schools:

  • They can be regular day schools or residential.

  • They often continue through the summer, sometimes even during vacations.

  • This is an out-of-district placement. It's more expensive for the school district, and sometimes they may resist placing a child in these schools. The school will pay if your child is placed here, but some families have to push for this. (You can pay yourself if the district doesn't agree and you have the means.)

  • If your child is placed in one, your school district should pay for transportation.

Here's what you can do if you think your child needs this option:

  • Learn about the 766 schools near you. Look in the Exceptional Lives Resource Directory to search for ones in your area. (Go to the Dashboard or click on the title above.)

  • Look at this website: The Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (MAAPS)There is a search tool there also.

  • Talk to the IEP Team. Explain why you think your child's needs will NOT be met by the in-district placement. Keep an open mind an listen to what they say. But if they do not agree, you may need to be persistent! Remember, you know your child best.


For the placement decision, here's what you can do:

  • Stay very involved in the decisionIf you have any questions about it, ask the Team.

  • Learn about the different options. Go visit the classrooms or school programs that the Team is suggesting for your child.

  • Get familiar with the placement form. Click the link at the bottom of the page to download a blank copy of the form.

  • Just like the IEP Form, you don't have to sign at the meeting! Take time to think about it while you learn more!


Check what you wrote for transportation services

If your child will be going to a school outside the district, think about how they will get to school. Make sure that your transportation section takes this into account.

If your child has an IEP, they have a right to get a special bus to and from school if they need it.

If your child's disability means they need this service, you will fill this out.



Here's what you can do to decide:

  1. Think how typical children in your neighborhood get to school. Walk? Yellow school bus? Public transportation?

  2. Decide if your child's disability prevents them from getting to school the same way as their peers.

  3. Could they safely ride a regular school bus or van with some help? What extra help would they need? For example, some kids have a bus attendant, or monitor. A monitor is a person who rides with your child to keep them safe. Not the driver.

  4. Your child may need a special transportation vehicle. For example, if they use a wheelchair.

Children with IEPs can usually get a special bus to school if needed.

On page 6 in the IEP, the team writes if your child needs regular transportation or special transportation to get to school. Your child may also need another support, like an aide or bus monitor to help them and keep them safe. This can also be written on this page.

If you prefer to take your child to school yourself, you may be able to get reimbursed. This means the state pays you a standard rate per mile that you drive to and from school.


Source: MA DESE


Sources: MA DESE, FCSN

Sources: MA DESE, FCSN