OSEP Reverses Its Interpretation of Maintenance of Effort

April 26, 2012

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has reversed its interpretation of the local educational agency (LEA) maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement [PDF] as previously stated in its June 16, 2011, letter to Dr. Bill East, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education.

ASHA, as a part of the Education Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), sent a letter in October 2011 to OSEP expressing concern regarding the "informal guidance" on the local MOE requirement under Section 613 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) issued on June 16, 2011. The letter was sent in response to a letter of inquiry from Dr. East in which he provided a scenario concerning the level of effort that an LEA must meet in the year it fails to maintain effort under IDEA. At that time OSEP stated, "In the absence of an explicit alternative rule, an LEA would be obligated only to meet a level of effort equal to the amount it expended in the prior year, even if it had not maintained effort in the prior year."

After further review and amid much concern expressed by disability advocates across the nation, OSEP reversed itself in a letter to the Center for Law and Education: OSEP "determined that the level of effort that an LEA must meet in the year after it fails to maintain effort is the level of effort that it should have met in the prior year, and not the LEA's actual expenditures."

For additional information, please contact Catherine D. Clarke, ASHA's director of education and regulatory advocacy, at cclarke@asha.org or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 5611.

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