Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education


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Subject: Compensatory Services

Source: Heidi Atkins Lieberman, Assistant Commissioner

Intended Audience: Special Education Administrators

Date: May 23, 2008

The U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a policy letter in March 2007 (Letter to Clarke).  That letter included several issues; one of those issues was compensatory services.

In the letter, OSEP changed its mid-1990's position on compensatory services by noting that IDEA really does not provide for compensatory services, that the issue boils down to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and that whether a child is in need of compensatory services is an individualized issue.  It "encouraged" schools to convene IEP teams to address compensatory services when there has been a failure to implement due to things like provider absences.

After careful consideration and discussion, we have reached the conclusion that our long-standing position that provider absences requires either full make-up services OR an IEP team meeting and decision on the extent, if any, of compensatory services needed, is without authority.  However, we strongly recommend that responsible public agencies consider continuing to address provider absences by either full make-up of services OR convening the IEP team to address the need for compensatory services.  This is one way to ensure FAPE has been addressed.  We also encourage you to discuss this with your school district lawyer.

The exact language from the OSEP letter is as follows:

"...you requested written guidance on the need to use substitutes and to schedule make-up sessions when speech-language pathology sessions are missed due to a child's absence from school, cancellation for a class or school activity, or absence of the speech language pathologist. IDEA and the regulations do not address these issues. States and local educational agencies are required to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them FAPE, consistent with the child's individualized education program (IEP) (see 34 CFR Section 300.101). We encourage public agencies to consider the impact of a provider's absence or a child's absence on the child's progress and performance and determine how to ensure the continued provision of FAPE in order for the child to continue to progress and meet the annual goals in his or her IEP. Whether an interruption in services constitutes a denial of FAPE is an individual determination that must be made on a case-by-case basis."

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Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Division of Special Education
P.O. Box 480
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Email:  webreplyspe@dese.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-5739   Fax:  573-526-4404


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