If you are placing your child in a private or special education school that works with students with disabilities for this fall, you need to send a unilateral placement letter (sometimes referred to as a “Gebser” letter) to the public school system notifying them of the placement in the private, special education, or “non-public” school. This letter is sometimes referred to as a “unilateral placement letter,” a “10-day letter” or a “Gebser” letter.
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) requires that you take the step of sending a unilateral placement letter if you intend to request funding from the school system for a private special education placement. It is recommended that you go ahead and send the letter regardless of whether you know that you will be requesting funding– if you are unsure, send the letter. Even if you are pretty sure you will not request funding for your unilateral placement, go ahead and send it anyway. There’s no harm and it lets the school system know why you are unhappy with your child’s special education services in the public school.
There are a few simple requirements under the law (34 CFR 300.148) that you must follow in your unilateral placement letter under IDEA.
- Inform the IEP team that you are rejecting the Individualized Education Program (IEP) that they are proposing for your child’s special education program and that you plan to seek tuition reimbursement
- Do this in writing (email is great, copy multiple people at the school and possibly the central special education office in your county)
- List your specific concerns about the program (IEP) that the school offered to your child
- Send this letter to the school team at least ten business days before your child starts at the new school or you remove your child from the public school
If you do not send this notice, you may not be eligible for reimbursement, or reimbursement for tuition may be reduced. It is highly likely that the school system will make this argument if you do not send this letter and follow the above requirements, so the seriousness of sending this letter, and doing it right cannot be understated.
There may be some specialized language that would help specific to your child’s case if you plan to place your child in a private special education school this fall. There are also specific timing issues that should be considered on a case-by-case basis. We can help you draft the best letter for your situation and advise as to the likelihood of a successful case for tuition reimbursement.
If you think you may need assistance with your student’s IEP goals and progress reporting, schedule a free call to discuss how a special education attorney or parent advocate can help.
This blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.