On February 14, 2023, ALJ Matthew Wacker ordered that a School District in Washington State arrange for, fund, and provide a student a Student Travel Escort (STE) to accompany our 16-year-old client with autism during her visits between home and her residential placement in order to implement her stay-put program for an out-of-state IEP placement.
The ALJ reasoned that the STE – previously omitted from the student’s individualized education program (IEP) – was a required element in the student’s ability to travel to their home and their center, providing in relevant part:
The Stay-Put IEP provides the Student with four home visits each year but does not provide funding for an STE, which is a required component without which the Student cannot access her related service and visit her home. This is simply an illogical and unsupportable outcome. Developing an IEP which provides a related service that cannot be implemented is an absurd result.
Given the impact of the Student’s disabilities on her ability to travel known to the IEP team when it drafted the Student’s Stay-Put IEP, it is concluded that the Student’s Stay-Put IEP implicitly acknowledges, requires, and provides for an STE for the Student. Without providing an STE to accompany the Student home and then back to NECC, it is concluded that the District is failing to implement a material component of the Student’s Stay-Put IEP.
Previously the Parents had been required to travel across the country and back for each leg of the trip in order to accompany their daughter who is unable to travel on her own due to her disability. This result drives home the importance for a school district to support students with disabilities, as well as their families, to implement material components of a student’s IEP even – or perhaps especially – when a highly impacted student has been placed out-of-state in a therapeutic residential setting.
The Parents highly encourage other families to insist on including home visits as a part of the child’s placement when the child is being placed out of state. The success here was due in part to the fact that home visits were already a part of the IEP.
You can read the whole stay put order here.
Published by: Sierra Qualles & Sydney Bay