Local Districts Required to Fulfill Maintenance of Effort

The Department of Education retracted informal guidance it had given to local school districts concerning the maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The MOE requirement was built into IDEA to protect students with disabilities from economic and political funding decisions. In June 2011, the Department had advised the National Association of State Directors of Special Education that if districts lowered special education funding (there are a few very specific exceptions to the MOE requirement), districts could base future funding on the lowered amount. The Arc joined several advocacy organizations in asking the Department to re-think its interpretation of the MOE requirement in IDEA and to retract the guidance.

In a letter sent to the Center for Law and Education on April 4, the Department said that upon further review, they had determined that the amount of money a district must spend on special education in a year after it had not able to maintain effort is the amount that it should have spent in the prior year, and not the district’s actual expenditures. The Department concluded its letter by indicating it planned to seek public comment on the issue.