Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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Alternative Education

Frequently Asked Questions and Promising Practices

I. General Questions

4. What is the relationship between Alternative Education and Special Education services?

Students with disabilities, including those in need of Special Education and with an Individualized Education Program (IEP), who enroll or are placed in Alternative Education, must be provided their full array of rights under the federal and state Special Education laws. Students with disabilities may not be discriminated against on the basis of their disability. While Alternative Education programs are not designed to serve a majority of students with disabilities, students with disabilities cannot be excluded from the program or denied comparable aids, benefits, or services because of their disabilities.

Alternative Education may be an option for students with disabilities when the program is determined appropriate to meet a student's disability related educational need(s) by the team responsible for developing the student's IEP/504 plan. However, because these students are entitled to be educated in a regular school program to the maximum extent feasible, they should not routinely be removed from the mainstream and placed in Alternative Education. A transfer of a student with a disability with an IEP to an Alternative Education program or school must occur with Team approval and parental agreement, and be consistent with procedural special education procedural safeguards.

For more information regarding this topic, contact the Department's Program Quality Assurance unit at 781-338-3700.

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Last Updated: September 20, 2012
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