Notice & Comment

Department of Education Seeks to Clarify IDEA Regulations, by Shannon Allen

The Secretary of the Department of Education (“ED”) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing to amend regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”).  The Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities program is governed by these regulations.  The ED seeks public comment to help clarify current policy.

Under Part B of the IDEA, the ED offers grants to States to “assist them in providing special education and related services to children with disabilities.”  The purpose of Part B regulations is to:

  1. make certain all children with disabilities have access to free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) emphasizing unique needs and preparation for further education, employment, and independent living;
  2. ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected;
  3. assist States, localities, educational service agencies, and Federal agencies with providing education to all children with disabilities; and
  4. assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities.

Part B funding is aimed at helping States and local educational agencies (“LEAs”) meet their“financial obligation to provide special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities.”  States must apply to the Secretary of the ED and LEAs must apply to their states in order to obtain funds.  “Thestatute and its regulations impose conditions on Part B grants, including a maintenance of State financial support provision and a maintenance of effort (“MOE”) provision for LEAs.”  This NPRM is only focused on proposed amendments to the LEA MOE provision.

The ED’s proposed amendments include;

  • clarifying the compliance standard;
  • explaining the eligibility standard;
  • addressing the level of effort required of an LEA in the year after it fails to maintain effort under the IDEA;
  • specifying the consequence for a failure to maintain local effort; and
  • deciding whether States and LEAs or other interested parties think these proposed amendments will be helpful in increasing understanding of, and ensuring compliance with, the current local maintenance of effort requirements.

The ED “continues to receive questions on these complex requirements” and “has found that a significant lack of understanding regarding the local MOE requirements persists.”  Thus, the ED invites comment from States and LEAs “to identify where they are experiencing the most problems in implementing the maintenance of effort requirements and whether these proposed regulations will help to address those problems.”  In addition, the ED invites comments on decreasing potential costs” or increasing “potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the IDEA Part B program.”

Interested parties must submit comments by December 2, 2013.  Comments should include the Docket ID: ED-2012-OSERS-0020-0001 at the top of the comments and may be submitted by any of the following methods:

  • Electronically:  Go to to submit your comments; OR
  • Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: Address comments to Mary Louise Dirrigl, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., room 5103, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2600.
  • NOTE: The ED will not accept comments by fax or by email.

This post was originally published on the legacy ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Notice and Comment blog, which merged with the Yale Journal on Regulation Notice and Comment blog in 2015.

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