SEN Challenges For US Families Moving Domestically

Updated: Apr 28



Our CEO, Elizabeth Sawyer, was recently invited to speak alongside Elizabeth Stewart (EVP, Altair Global), Patrick Keery (VP, Altair Global), and Deanna Trevino (International Relocation Specialist, Rockwell Automation) in a webinar hosted by Worldwide ERC - “Bridging the Gap: Special Needs and Mobility.” In this excerpt, Elizabeth focuses on challenges faced by families with children with special needs in the US relocating between districts (edited for clarity): 

"Let's say you've had your child tested in the U. S. public school district, you have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) in place for your child, and you move to another district. Theoretically, the new district should recognize that IEP but in reality will typically insist on performing their own testing. With children with special needs, timing is critical. It's critical that they are receiving the support that they need all the time, without interruption, and because of this, timing can be the biggest hurdle that relocating families within the US face. For any district, by law, families have a certain number of days to complete an evaluation, then they have another number of days to put an IEP in place, and then there is another amount of time before it is reviewed. If a family moves to a new district, they'll have to navigate all of that all over again, and they may lose time when their children are receiving services in the meantime. Additionally, districts will typically not tell you a lot about what kind of help your children are going to receive until you're already residents in that district, so if you are very understandably looking at various districts trying to figure out where your children will get the best support, you may not necessarily be able to get as much information as you want until you've already chosen a district. It's a little bit of a "chicken and egg" problem.


Here's another interesting point of discussion: families moving domestically don't typically qualify for support by experts under company policy. So, when I think all of the families that we work with - probably only half of them have revealed to their employer if they have a special needs child, and we independently we discover that. And those are predominantly for international moves. Families moving domestically aren't necessarily assigned to experts, be it Bennett or any other educational consulting group that has specialists on their team, to support that family. So that points to a need for a reconsideration of policy."

Bennett International provides the foremost expert education counsel to families residing or relocating anywhere in the world. We guide relocating families to find the best-fit schools for their children, and further support them with long-range education planning. 

See also:  Relocating With SEN Children: Understanding Cultural Differences SEN Challenges for Families Moving Internationally

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