School district and residential treatment


New Member
Can someone please tell me how to get the school district to pay for educational cost while my son is in residential treatment. He needs to be there urgently and the only thing holding us back is the school district. The doctors and parents all feel this is in the best interest of the child, but the school thinks we should keep trying different counselors. Please help me help my child.


Schools are required by law to educate a child in the least restrictive environment (LRE). With that said, the LRE may be 100% mainstreamed for one student and Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placement for another.

It is rare that school district IEP team members would agree to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placement unless there is a long history of trying other means. Even then, Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is so costly that even when the need is evident, it's more often than not very difficult to get appropriate placement.

Can you give us some history?

Also, have you enlisted the services of an advocate?


New Member
This is his third year of alternative school. he has not recieved any sort of education other than the few papers they can get him to complete each week. He has been sent to juvenile detention from the school for being disruptive and attacking other students. We are called on a daily basis to come and pick him up. He recieves disability and medicaid. His hospitalization would be covered by medicaid, but the hospital requires that the educational part be paid by the school. They wish to keep him in the alternative school, and just deal with him by sending him home everyday. He has an IEP, but they dont seem to make much use of it.


"Alternative school" can mean different things in different parts of the country. What comes to my mind when there's an "alternative school" involved is that it is a placement for kids that are behavior problems and little teaching is done.

If this is the type school your child is in, and has been in for 3 yrs, your school district is out of compliance with the law (unless parents have agreed with-the placement by accepting it in the IEP). Also, if they are not following the IEP, they are non-compliant.

From :

Under section 615(k)(1)(F)
of the Act and section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, if the
behavior that resulted in the change of
placement is determined to be a
manifestation of a child’s disability, the
child must be returned to the placement
from which the child was removed
(other than a 45-day placement under
§§ 300.530(g), 300.532(b)(2), and
300.533), unless the public agency and
the parents otherwise agree to a change
of placement.

When the behavior is related to the
child’s disability, proper development
of the child’s IEP should include
development of strategies, including
positive behavioral interventions,
supports, and other strategies to address
that behavior, consistent with
§ 300.324(a)(2)(i) and (a)(3)(i). When the
behavior is determined to be a
manifestation of a child’s disability but
has not previously been addressed in
the child’s IEP, the IEP Team must
review and revise the child’s IEP so that
the child will receive services
appropriate to his or her needs.

Implementation of the behavioral
strategies identified in a child’s IEP,
including strategies designed to correct
behavior by imposing disciplinary
consequences, is appropriate under the
Act and section 504, even if the
behavior is a manifestation of the child’s
disability. A change in placement that is
appropriate and consistent with the
child’s needs may be implemented
subject to the parent’s procedural
safeguards regarding prior notice
(§ 300.503), mediation (§ 300.506), due
process (§§ 300.507 through 300.517)
and pendency (§ 300.518).

You do not have to just accept what a school district tells you -- as the parent you are a full member of the IEP team. When dealing with a sd that believes it's acceptable to leave a student in an alternative school for 3 years, you have to know your's and your child's education rights. I strongly, strongly urge you to get an advocate to help you with this. is a good place to start looking for one.

When was the last IEP meeting? What's in the IEP? What's his qualifying eligibility category?

If you son has been in an alternative school for 3 yrs without instruction, I'm thinking he must be way behind academically. When was the last time he was fully evaluated? Has an FBA ever been performed?


Ditto what Sheila said.

An Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is one of the most difficult things to get from a SD. However, if the school is only being asked to pick up the educational tab, this is helpful. If there is no one else to pay, the SD also has to pay room and board. This will cause them to fight harder.

When seeking residential, sad to say, it helps either to have enough resources to self fund (which is usually in excess of 80 thousand a year), or have no resources at all. Everyone is the middle is in a bad way. This is why it is very important to know the law AND have a on-site advocate.



member since 1999
Definitely, if the SD's solution is to send him home early because of behaviors, FAPE is not being provided. There can be no "educational benefit" for your son if he's not in school. How have his standardized testing scores been? Just thinking of ammo for your argument.

There's a lovely little loophole in IDEA that has made my life miserable but that may actually work in your favor. "Placement" is not a physical location - it's the program. Since your SD is already funding an "alternative" educational program for your son, son's move to a different "alternative" educational program does not in fact constitute a change in placement. I would think they would have a difficult time justifying their refusal to pay for something they are, on paper, already paying for.

Another way to look at it - you have MDs stating your son needs treatment, you have funding for the residential portion lined up (which is usually the bear), and now you have the SD interfering with- treatment by refusing to fund what they are *already* funding (alt. school). It's like an SD refusing to pay for school services for a child in the hospital with- an illness. I seriously doubt there's a single SD employee who has the education/training to diagnose your son or to prescribe treatment, which is exactly what they're doing by suggesting different counseling. Ugh.

I would call your State Board of Ed and find out if there is any state policy. It's been years, and the funding situation is different here in IL, but I had the same concern when thank you left for Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in 2000. What I was told was that if funding for residential portion of Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is in line, home school district *cannot* refuse to pay for educational portion, period.

Good luck - let us know how it works out.