Thomas A. Mayes, an attorney with the Iowa Department of Education, recently provided explanations for special education regulations:
1. New USDE Guidance Document on Postsecondary Opportunities for Students with Disabilities. On September 17, 2019, the U.S. Department of Education released a guidance document on the use of IDEA Part B funds and vocational rehabilitation services to support students with disabilities, including students with intellectual disability, in dual enrollment coursework and comprehensive transition programs. The guidance document also provides information on federal student financial aid for students with disabilities.
2. New OSEP Letter on Services Being Determined Inappropriately Based on Placement. In Letter to Rowland (September 9, 2019), OSEP reminded readers that it is contrary to the IDEA to withhold a particular IEP service based on the child's placement (e.g., "Nobody gets reading services here; we focus solely on behavior," "Nobody gets SLP services here because everyone gets 2 hours/week of SLP services as part of the program and as a matter of course."). OSEP stated
barring a specific related service from being included in a child’s IEP or restricting the provision of a specific related service or services based solely on the child’s placement in a particular program –without regard for the child’s identified needs for that service –would be inconsistent with the individualized decision-making required in both the IEP and placement processes.
Although this letter focuses on preschool, the logic is applicable to all IDEA services.
3. New OSEP Letter on IEP Team Participation. In Letter to Anonymous (September 9, 2019), OSEP gave guidance on child participation in the IEP Team and parent access to evaluation reports before IEP Team meetings. As to the second issue, OSEP notes that there is no particular timeline in IDEA to provide an evaluation report; however, IDEA (and FERPA) provide a right to "inspect and review existing educational records, including an evaluation report, without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP, and in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made" (emphasis added).
4. New DE Supervisory Order on Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment. In 2012, Governor Branstad signed a law creating Iowa Code chapter 144D, which established a procedure for physician orders for scope of treatment (POST). POST forms typically set out considerations for end-of-life care, such as the use of CPR or calling 911. Dr. Ryan Wise, the director of the Iowa Department of Education, signed a supervisory order on September 5, 2019, explaining that health care providers employed by Iowa schools, such a school nurses, are governed by Iowa Code chapter 144D and must honor a POST form prepared for a student. If the school nurse is unable to comply with a POST form (either because of employer policy or because of personal beliefs), the nurse and employer must transfer the student to a school that will comply with the student's POST form. Furthermore, other school personnel who are not health care providers may permissibly comply with POST forms. The order further notes that an Attorney General opinion on schools' compliance with advance directives or "living" wills interprets a Code chapter with material differences from chapter 144D. If you have any questions about this supervisory order, please contact me.
Thomas A. Mayes, Attorney II
Division of Learning and Results
Iowa Department of Education
400 E 14th St
Grimes State Office Building
Des Moines IA 50319-0146