Make Moving With An IEP Less Scary: PCSing And IEPs

Military family preparing to relocate with a child in special education services hoping to make moving with an IEP less stressful.

Moving with an IEP (Individualized Education Program) can be a daunting and overwhelming task for military families. 

However, PCSing (moving from one duty station to another) is already stressful enough without worrying about how it will affect your child’s educational program.

As a parent of a child with special needs, you may have questions like:

  • How to Transfer an IEP to Another School?
  • What documents do I need to get from my current school?
  • Will my child’s new school go by their current IEP?
  • Do we need to schedule a new IEP meeting?

These worries are understandable, but there is no need to panic! With some planning and preparation, you can make moving with an IEP less intimidating and more manageable.

This article discusses tips for making the transition smoother so you can focus on settling into your new home. At least for the next three years…maybe.

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#1 How to Transfer an IEP to Another School 

So, you just received your PCS orders. Now what? 

It is important to remember that an IEP is a federal document. Therefore, your child’s IEP, while written by your child’s school, is a recognized and legal document federally. 

So, your child’s new public school must accept the current and up-to-date IEP. However, you should expect changes with any move.  

Here you can read more about The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Collect All Special Education Documents When Moving With an IEP

Request records from the current school district. Ensure you get a complete copy of your child’s IEP and evaluations

These records should include details about your child’s:

Communication With New School

Notify both current and future school districts of your plans in writing as soon as possible. This will help ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed and submitted on time.

Speaking with the special education director or coordinator before your child starts the new school is helpful. In addition, providing a copy of the IEP will allow your child’s new teacher to read it before your child’s arrival. 

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As a special education director, I frequently spoke to potential and future parents. They often emailed a copy of the IEP to me in advance. 

I read it and explained the process that would be to come once they moved into the state and the school. 

#2 Be Prepared for an IEP Meeting When Changing Schools

When your child’s IEP moves states, a new IEP meeting must take place to transfer it into the new state. Again, discussing this over the phone or by email with the school before moving would be best. 

It is best practice to speak directly to the special education department. This will yield the most accurate advice and support. 

You can schedule an IEP meeting when you share the IEP or walk into the school when you arrive in your new state. 

But, I suggest calling ahead, as the special education director/coordinator may be in an IEP meeting or located at another school. 

In addition, they sometimes provide support to more than one school in the district. 


#3 Be Prepared for Changes When Moving With an IEP

When the IEP moves states, the final document will have a different appearance. This includes the layout as well as the wording. 

States have a variety of words for the same thing. For example, in North Carolina, resource means a pull-out setting. However, other states use different words. 

Your child’s school is expected to provide as close to the same accommodations as is on the IEP that is coming to them. That is, unless you, as an IEP team member, decide that this would not be in your child’s best interest. 

As a special education director, I had a student PCS from Tennessee to North Carolina. The IEP that came to me said that somebody should read everything aloud to the child. 

The parents did not feel that was the best fit, as their child was never allowed to read and fell further behind. 

Since the student was new to the school, we agreed as an IEP team to update read aloud for everything to be read aloud upon request only. And we decided that if this were not a good fit, we would reconvene for an addendum meeting to discuss further support. 

Additional IEP Resources

Please consider these tips as you decide on future schools or districts that may be a good fit for your family. 

Remember that if ever in doubt about what is happening or how things are going at your new school, ask questions.

The following resources may also be helpful:

Special Education Resource has dozens of articles, quotes, videos, resources, and one-on-one special education tutoring. We are here to help you every step of the way.

Would you like support in your child’s IEP? Schedule a call so we can chat here.

Check out these additional articles about Individual Education Plans.


Military family preparing to relocate with a child in special education services hoping to make moving with an IEP less stressful.
Relocating is stressful, especially for military families with a child in special education services. Make Moving With An IEP Less Scary with these tips.

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Christina Singh

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