Appropriate Educational Placement

Consider the following in order to determine appropriate educational placement:

  • If your child has special education needs, be sure comparable services are available when transferring to a new school program as required by an existing IEP. A 30-day placement IEP meeting must be held if the new school district is changing the child's program or services from the previous IEP.
  • Placement decisions shall be made to ensure each foster child has the same opportunities educationally that all students have, including least restrictive placement, and access to the academic resources, services, extracurricular and enrichment activities as all other pupils.
  • Ask the school or previous school if your child has a 504 Plan, extensive discipline records, current expulsion from school, grade report and attendance report. This information is valuable in determining what school program might best serve your child.

Educational Settings Glossary


This setting is often referred to by students as a "regular" or "normal" school. If the child you are working with does not have a disability (and, for high school students, is not significantly behind in attaining credits), they will most likely receive their education in a traditional school offered by their school district of residence.

Resource Specialist Program (RSP)

When a child has a disability and is eligible for special education, they will often receive some or all of their instruction with more support than the general education setting provides. A special education student with an RSP designation will spend up to half of the school day (but usually less) in a small class setting, receiving help from the RSP teacher to complete assignments and understand material from the general education classes they are enrolled in. Less frequently, students will receive instruction on material not covered in their general education from the RSP teacher. It is very common for special education students to participate in an RSP at the traditional school they attend.

Special Day Class (SDC)

Special day classes serve students who, because of their disabilities, cannot participate in general education classes for a majority of the day. And SDC often consists of a very small number of students and is located on the general education sites. As appropriate, students enrolled in special day classes will attend some general education classes as appropriate. SDC students will also interact with their general education peers through non-academic and extracurricular activities.

Therapeutic Day School

For a child to be considered for placement in a Therapeutic Day School they must be eligible for mental health services under AB3632 (Chapter 26.5) and have exhibited extreme difficulty in participating in less restrictive special education placements. Therapeutic day schools offer integrated special education and mental health services to adolescents at risk of failure because of social, emotional, or learning difficulties.

Nonpublic Schools

California Education Code defines a nonpublic school as a "private, nonpublic, nonsectarian school that enrolls individuals with exceptional needs pursuant to an Individualized Education Program (IEP)." Children are only placed in nonpublic schools if they have a valid IEP requiring placement at an NPS or the person holding educational rights consents. Nonpublic schools are only to be used when the district has no public program that can meet the child's needs.

Community School

Community Schools serve 6th to 12th grade students who are considered at-risk, including students who have been expelled, are on probation, or for whom districts have run out of interventions. Typically, youth remain at these schools for a semester to a year. In rare cases, youth will remain at these schools for longer than a year. Community Schools are considered schools of last resort. Community school programs are intended to have low student-teacher ratios, attempt to close the skills gap, focus on pro-social skills, self-esteem, and resiliency. Upon admission, students take a basic adult skills test and an individual learning plan is created. For high school students, community schools offer credit recovery. Accumulating credits tends to be the focus of both teachers and students at community schools, in addition to getting them on the right track. Students are most often referred to a community school by a probation officer, but a parent or guardian can request placement and there is a district-level referral process as well. Community schools in the county are run by the San Mateo County Office of Education.

Court Schools

The court schools in San Mateo County are located at the Youth Services Center (Juvenile Hall) and Camp Glenwood (for boys). Like community schools, the court schools' programs are focused on attaining credits and improving outcomes for this high-risk population. The court schools are operated by the San Mateo County Office of Education.