Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Maintenance of Effort

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the Department of Education issued informal guidance to local schools explaining that they can reduce their local spending on special education services. OSEP’s guidance was triggered by a request from the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and concerned a local school district that had not been able to provide the same level of funding for special education in 2011 as it had in 2010. The district was fined for its failure but, according to OSEP, could reduce its 2012 level of special education funding to the 2011 reduced level (when it failed to meet the 2010 level of spending) rather than the 2010 level. Legal advocacy organizations have said they believe OSEP is mistaken and have asked for reconsideration of OSEP’s position. Under the IDEA, States and local school districts are required to keep their spending levels the same from year to year, a provision known as maintenance of effort (MOE). Several states have asked for a waiver from the MOE requirement due to budgetary constraints (Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia).

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