Normally, I’m against homebound IEP placement for most students. After all, it is one of the most restrictive placement options.

It often gets used and abused, and IEP students are placed in this “no man’s land” and fall off the radar and get greatly reduced services.

However, the main principle of IEPs is “individualized,” so for some students, it should be considered.

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How to request a home instruction letter template for IEP homebound instruction.

Before you dig into this article, please note:

Deciding if Your Child Needs Distance Learning

For the purposes of this post, it makes many assumptions.

  1. You have read, studied, and thought about your options for your child and public school, and you want your child to do at-home learning.
  2. Your state does not offer cyber charters, and your school district does not offer a distance-learning option. If they offer a distance learning option for general education students, they must offer it to all students. (FAPE, y’all!)
  3. Your child has an IEP and has a placement other than homebound, and that is what you want right now.

Whew! OK, still with me?

So at the end of all that, you’re asking for an IEP Placement change.

However, this one feels more urgent than other placement changes because often there is more at stake than a lack of progress or IEP regression.

Our kids may be struggling with anxiety, bullying, and other issues that are causing them to not just regress but have serious consequences for their health.

A little girl browsing books on a shelf while learning to request IEP homebound instruction.

So, you want a good strategy in place with a strongly worded letter.

What you need to prove is this:

  • Why Homebound is the most appropriate placement for your child at this time
  • Why in-school services are inappropriate at this time

Get it?

You want to argue for one placement (the pros) and list the cons of the other placement. Plug all the holes of any possible rebuttal.

Request Homebound Instruction or Instruction in the Home

  1. Look at your school district policy and state regulations. You have to be very specific in your request. Not all states permit telehealth for things like related services.
  2. Discuss with your doctor. Normally, you all know I’m not a huge fan of this. A letter from your doctor is generally not the way to get things on an IEP. I would try to get two letters, minimum, as to why this placement change is warranted. And have them be from either your general pediatrician or a relevant specialty. A pulmonologist should speak to lung issues, not your neurologist, and so on. A neurologist, however, can speak to your child’s cognitive and processing ability and how that could be detrimental in an in-person setting.
  3. Request letters from doctors. An in-person or virtual visit may not be necessary to get a letter. I know some of my son’s team know him well enough and see him frequently enough that it wouldn’t be necessary. Say to them: I need a letter stating your professional opinion about why my child cannot attend in-person school. I don’t want to tell a doctor what to say. But hopefully, this will steer them toward a letter that says, “It is my professional opinion that…”
  4. Gather your letters. But don’t necessarily send them. Again, you’re going to have to decide on your strategy. You may not want to show your whole hand when you request the placement change. You can always end your letter with, “I can provide letters supporting this change from his or her medical team.”
  5. Compose your letter. I am going to list a bunch of sentence starters below. Choose what works for you.
  6. Reread your letter before sending it. Have a stranger read it, too, if possible. Grammar, spelling, professionalism, and power words. Remember your IEP email etiquette.
A young boy engrossed in a video game on a computer.

Examples of Home Instruction Requests

I will try to keep these in order, but it may not be possible. I will number them for those of you reading and taking notes.

Also, IEP placement change is a big deal.

Do you know what your IEP rights are?
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Not really appropriate for an IEP no-meet addendum, but we’ll get to that at the end of the letter.

Parents should look up your state regulations on Special Education and see what they say about Homebound Instruction or instruction in the home.

There may be strict code for the school district to follow. Often, you can even use the state language in your request.

Requesting Home Instruction: Introduction

  1. Dear IEP team,
  2. Dear Principal (if you do not have a designated person yet)
  3. A reminder not to cc the entire planet, only relevant people.

Home Instruction due to Health Issues

Some kids have a 504 plan.

My child has a 504 for “xyz.” During normal times, the 504 can be implemented in the school building. However, due to the pandemic, he needs accommodation and instruction at home. (and list the reasons why.)

You should know that Section 504 specifically mentions at-home instruction as an accommodation.

In fact, in October of 2023, the Director of OSEP sent out an email that specifically mentions this. A direct quote of what she said:

Ms. Valerie C. Williams, OSEP Director

Dear Friends!

We had an anniversary celebration last week. Fifty years ago on Sept. 26, 1973, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was signed into law. The Rehabilitation Act was a major legislative milestone in the history of ensuring equity and greater access for Americans with disabilities.

In Congress’ own words, some of the purposes for passing the Rehabilitation Act include:

  • Initiate and expand services to groups of handicapped individuals (including those who are homebound or institutionalized) who have been underserved in the past.
SOURCE: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/newsletter/oseps-october-2023-update-directors-message-ed-updates-announcements-featured-resources/

Requesting Home Instruction: What You Want

  1. I am writing to you about my child “name.”
  2. I am writing to you about my child “name,” who is a student in your building and had Mrs. ABC last year. (if writing to the principal-my son’s elementary school has 1600 students, I don’t expect him to remember every detail).
  3. I am requesting an IEP placement change from his current placement to xyz (note: Use power words. I am requesting. Not “I would like to request…” Power.Words.)
  4. I am requesting an IEP team meeting to discuss “name” placement change and what that would look like once implemented. (Again, power words. I said, “once implemented.” I didn’t say “if implemented.”)

Requesting Home Instruction-List your reasons.

Define your why, but focus on your child, not you.

Pick and choose what you need here.

  1. “Child” would love to learn in school. However, current circumstances make it impossible for him to do so safely.
  2. I’ve read the district’s policy on homebound instruction, and the concerns are XYZ (list them) because they would have (these) potential harmful effects on his health (and list them). Not “my concerns,” take you out of it. It takes practice, but keep it focused on how this will affect your child.
  3. Additionally, his medical team has stated (and list them). Again-power words. Not the “medical team feels.” It’s not about how any of the adults in his/her life feel; it’s about why this is not the appropriate placement right now.
  4. His father/mother and I have discussed this at great lengths with his medical team this summer, and we have been unable to come up with safe solutions for “child” to attend in person safely at this time. I wish to revisit this issue at the end of each marking period.
  5. We want to discuss with the IEP team what distance learning will look like for “child” and if related services can be set up via telehealth (if it applies).
  6. I can arrange to pick up needed materials at the school monthly (or whatever you want).
  7. A bulleted letter is fine. You want to clarify what will not work with your child at the school building and how to avoid those problems by keeping him home.

Requesting Home Instruction-List your availability.

  1. I am available to meet by Zoom on the following days and times:
  2. I understand that requesting a placement change is a serious component of the IEP, so I have requested an IEP meeting. However, I agree if the team feels an IEP no-meet addendum is appropriate and agreeable. I know it can be tough to make schedules work together.
  3. Please ensure that an LEA with the authority to make this decision is present for the meeting.

Reference the Letters of Support

  1. I am attaching 173 letters of support from his medical team, and listing their reasons why this could be detrimental for “child.” Another reminder: power words, not “why they feel this could be unsafe.” Facts, not feelings.
  2. I can provide you with 173 letters of support from his medical team if necessary.
  3. We have had multiple virtual visits this summer to discuss this issue. This is not a decision we have approached lightly.

As an aside, I bet I could come up with 173 letters if I had to. At least it feels like we see that many specialists sometimes.

Requesting Home Instruction-Your Closing.

  1. I am sure that we can come up with a plan so that “child” is safe and we can minimize the possibility of regression, even if learning will look different.
  2. Thank you for your time.
  3. I will contact you by (give 5 business days if your state or district does not define this) if I have not heard back from you then.

Whew, we’re done! Now wait, and follow up.

Ask your questions in the group and prepare to kick butt at that virtual IEP meeting.

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