Including OSEP Letters, Memos, Dear Colleague Letters, and FAQs
Policy Support Documents
OSEP issues broader written guidance in the form of memos, Dear Colleague Letters, or frequently asked questions (FAQ) documents, as determined appropriate, based on:
- Information gathered through OSEP's oversight of implementation of the IDEA by state educational agencies and Part C lead agencies.
- Stakeholder-identified needs for clarification of the IDEA's provisions.
- Needs identified due to new statutory or regulatory provisions or court cases.
These OSEP policy memos, Dear Colleague Letters and FAQs are listed below in chronological order starting from the most recent issuance and going back to 2005. To request a copy of a document issued prior to 2005, please contact Lisa.Pagano@ed.gov.
Note: OSEP policy memos related to grant applications, submission of State Performance Plans (SPP) and Annual Performance Reports (APR) or reporting of IDEA State-Reported data under Section 618 of the IDEA are not included on this page as they are found on the two above links.
Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities
The Department released a supplemental fact sheet clarifying that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. This supplemental fact sheet from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) explains that as a school district takes necessary steps to address the health, safety, and well-being of all its students and staff, educators can use distance learning opportunities to serve all students.
Mar 21, 2020
Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak
This Questions and Answers (Q&A) document outlines states’ responsibilities to infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities and their families, and to the staff serving these children.
Mar. 12, 2020
Increasing Postsecondary Opportunities and Success for Students and Youth with Disabilities
The Department issued a Department issued a Questions and Answers document (Q&A), with an accompanying Appendix, on the dual enrollment of students with disabilities in secondary school and postsecondary education institutions, including comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities.
Sep. 17, 2019
Information Regarding Consequences for States Not Meeting the Requirement to Assess Not More than 1.0 Percent of Students on the Alternate Assessment
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information regarding the implications for States not meeting therequirement, in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), related to participation in an alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS).
March 28, 2019
Questions and Answers on U. S. Supreme Court Case Decision Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1
On March 22, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1, 137 S. Ct. 988. In that case, the Court interpreted the scope of the free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This Q&A provides parents and other stakeholders information on the issues addressed in Endrew F. and the impact of the Court's decision on the implementation of the IDEA
Dec. 7, 2017
OSEP Memo 17-05: Eligibility Determinations for Children Suspected of Having a Visual Impairment Including Blindness under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The purpose of this memorandum is to ensure broad dissemination of the key points made in our November 12, 2014 letter, provide the additional guidance requested on this important issue, and share information about outside resources that may be helpful as you examine your State’s procedures related to the identification and evaluation of children suspected of having a visual impairment including blindness.
May 22, 2017
POLICY MEMO: Requirements for the Cap on the Percentage of Students who may be Assessed with an Alternate Assessment Aligned with Alternate Academic Achievement Standards
This memorandum provides information regarding procedures for a state that wishes to seek a waiver of the 1.0 percent cap in ESEA section 1111(b)(2)(D)(i)(I) on the number of students who participate in alternate assessments aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS).
May 16, 2017
OSEP Letter to TASH
This letter addresses questions regarding OSEP's 84.325K grant priority: Interdisciplinary Preparation in Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services for Personnel Serving Children with Disabilities Who Have High-Intensity Needs.
April 18, 2017
Significant Disproportionality (Equity in IDEA) Essential Questions and Answers and a Model State Timeline
These resources are a follow-up to the Equity in IDEA final regulation, which was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19, 2016, and became effective on Jan. 18, 2017. The Q&A is a guidance document that includes questions and answers on the rule, including the standard methodology; remedies; effective and compliance dates; and a glossary of terms. It is intended to be used as a resource for states as they begin engaging with stakeholders around the implementation of the final rule. The Model State Timeline outlines the different streams of work and the timelines that states should consider as they implement the new rule.
March 31, 2017
Essential Questions and Answers
Model State Timeline
POLICY GUIDANCE: Joint Statement on Collaboration and Coordination of the MIECHV and IDEA Part C Programs
This joint statement from the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) sets a vision for stronger partnerships, collaboration, and coordination between awardees of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C Program.
January 19, 2017
Updated Dear Colleague Letter on Preschool Least Restrictive Environments.
Provides updated guidance on preschool least restrictive environments (LRE) and addresses: key statutory and regulatory requirements; preschool placement options; reporting educational environments data for preschool children with disabilities; and the use of IDEA Part B funds for preschool children with disabilities.
January 9, 2017
Dear Colleage Letter with the Office for Civil Rights on Charter Schools
Students with disabilities who are enrolled in public charter schools, like students with disabilities enrolled in other public elementary or secondary schools, have important rights under two Federal laws, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Similarly, students with disabilities who seek to enroll in public charter schools or traditional public schools have important rights secured by these two laws.
December 28, 2016
FAQ about the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
This guidance provides charter schools, states, state educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), other public agencies, parents, and other stakeholders with information regarding the rights of children with disabilities attending charter schools and their parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
December 27, 2016
FAQ on Early Childhood Privacy and Confidentiality
The purpose of this FAQ is to assist early childhood programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) with addressing privacy and confidentiality questions. This document is intended to provide responses to frequently asked questions to facilitate and enhance states' implementation of IDEA privacy and confidentiality provisions and can be used in conjunction with the 2014 side-by-side guide of the IDEA and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Confidentiality Provisions.
October 20, 2016
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Education of Children with Disabilities Attending Public Virtual Schools
Addresses the requirement for state educational agencies and local educational agencies to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities attending public virtual schools. The guidance focuses on specific requirements in IDEA for public virtual schools.
August 5, 2016
Know Your Rights in Charter Schools
This document is designed to help parents, students, and the charter school community better understand the rights of students with disabilities under Federal disability-related laws.
August 1, 2016
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Supporting Behavior of Students with Disabilities
Emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.
August 1, 2016
A Summary for Stakeholders
OCR Dear Colleague Letter on Obligation of Schools to Provide Students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder with Equal Educational Opportunity
This Dear Colleague Letter from the Office for Civil Rights describes the obligation of schools to provide students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with equal educational opportunity under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
July 26, 2016
IEP Translation—Communication from OSEP
Communication from OSEP regarding the Government's Statement of Interest in R. v. The School District Philadelphia addressing the translation of Individualized Education Program (IEP)s pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.
June 14, 2016
Statement of Interest (PDF, 190KB)
OSEP Memo 16-07—Response to Intervention (RTI) and Preschool Services
This memorandum states that a response to intervention process cannot be used to delay-deny an evaluation for preschool special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
April 29, 2016
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Children with Disabilities Residing in Nursing Homes
Addresses the responsibilities of states, school districts, and other public agencies in addressing the special educational needs of children with disabilities who reside in nursing homes.
April 26, 2016
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
Clarifies that individualized education programs (IEP) for children with disabilities must be aligned with state academic content standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled.
November 16, 2015
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) / Individual Education Program (IEP) Terms.
A policy guidance to clarify that there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations or IEP documents.
October 23, 2015
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter to SEAs Regarding Oversight of Federal Funds to Charter Schools
A Dear Colleague Letter to state educational agencies (SEAs) that offers guidance and federal resources on appropriate and effective oversight of public charter schools.
September 28, 2015
POLICY STATEMENT: Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs
This policy statement, released jointly by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, states that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.
September 14, 2015
Joint ED & HHS Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs. Full Statement. September 14, 2015
ED & HHS Joint Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs—Executive Summary. September 14, 2015
Letter by Secretaries Duncan and Burwell on Inclusion in Early Learning Programs. September 18, 2015
Q&A Regarding Inclusion of English Learners with Disabilities in English Language Proficiency Assessments and Title III Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives
This guidance document is on the inclusion of English Learners (ELs) with disabilities in English language proficiency (ELP) assessments under Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as amended. These are assessments designed to measure the progress of ELs in attaining English language proficiency.
August 3, 2015
July 2015 Addendum
OSEP Memo 15-10 Local Educational Agency (LEA) Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Questions and Answers
This Memorandum is a question and answer (Q&A) document on the final LEA MOE regulations that were published in the Federal Register on April 28, 2015 and became effective on July 1, 2015. OSEP encourages state educational agencies (SEAs) and LEAs to review carefully the final regulations and the attached guidance and work collaboratively to ensure that the regulations are implemented correctly.
July 27, 2015
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Speech and Language Services for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
This letter addresses reports that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may not be receiving needed speech and language services, and that speech-language pathologists and other appropriate professionals may not be included in evaluation and eligibility determinations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, or in meetings to develop the individualized education program (IEP) or individualized family service plan (IFSP) under both Parts B and C of IDEA.
July 6, 2015
OSEP Memo 15-08 Letter to Delisle: Children with Disabilities with High Cognition
This memorandum draws attention to the Office of Special Education Programs’ (OSEP) December 20, 2013 letter to Dr. Jim Delisle regarding determining eligibility for special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for children with disabilities with high cognition; students who Dr. Delisle terms “twice exceptional students” or “2E students.”
April 17, 2015
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Use of Due Process Procedures After a Parent Has Filed a State Complaint
This letter provides guidance that states, hearing officers, school districts, school staff, parents, and other stakeholders may find helpful in determining how to follow the IDEA dispute resolution procedures.
April 15, 2015.
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities
Clarifying state and public agency obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure the provision of a free and appropriate public education to eligible students with disabilities in correctional facilities.
December 5, 2014
OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Meeting the Communication Needs of Students with Hearing, Vision, or Speech Disabilities
This letter introduces an FAQ that explains the responsibility of public schools to ensure that communication with students with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities is as effective as communication with all other students.
November 12, 2014
Dear Colleague Letter
Frequently Asked Questions
OSEP Letter to Chief State School Officers (CSSO) on School Lunch Program
June 11, 2014
OSEP's policy letters provide written guidance and clarification regarding implementation of the IDEA. OSEP typically issues these letters in response to specific questions raised by parents, educators, representatives of advocacy organizations, state educational agencies, early intervention programs and their providers, and other interested parties. These OSEP policy letters are listed below in chronological order starting from the most recent issuance and going back to 2001. To request a copy of a document issued prior to 2001, please contact Lisa.Pagano@ed.gov.
November 22, 2018 Letter to Breeskin
TOPICS: Educational Placements
Addresses the role of parents in determining the educational placement of a child with a disability, including how far from home the child will be educated.
October 23, 2019 Letter to Anonymous
TOPICS: Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), State Complaints
Addresses questions regarding the provision of compensatory education after a family relocates to a new state.
- the participation of children with disabilities in IEP Team Meetings and other meetings held to discuss the results of testing, the child’s evaluation or reevaluation, or the child’s identified disability category (particularly secondary transition-aged youth); and
- provision of assessment reports to meeting participants, including the parents, prior to the meeting at which the assessment results will be discussed.
September 9, 2019 Letter to Rowland
TOPICS: Individualized Education Programs; Educational Placements
Addresses a series of questions regarding the development of IEPs of children placed in certain preschool programs, including whether a public agency may restrict the provision of a specific related service based solely on the child’s placement in a particular program.
July 3, 2019 Letter to Zirkel
TOPIC: State Complaints
Addresses a series of questions regarding a state educational agency’s (SEA’s) complaint procedures process, in particular, about enforcement actions and resolution of state complaints.
May 13, 2019 Letter to Zirkel
TOPICS: State Complaints, Due Process Hearings
Addresses a series of questions regarding the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state complaint and due process hearing procedures.
May 2, 2019 Letter to Haller
TOPIC: Individualized Education Programs (IEP) Team Meetings
Addresses whether a school district may invite an observer to an individualized education program (IEP) Team meeting.
May 2, 2019 Letter to Zirkel
TOPIC: Independent Educational Evaluations
Addresses a parent’s right to an IEE when the child has been evaluated and found not to be a child with a disability in need of special education and related services.
February 22, 2019 Letter to Olex
TOPIC: Transition to Postsecondary Education
Addresses whether parental consent is required prior to conducting “age appropriate transition assessments” referenced in the IDEA Part B transition services provisions.
February 21, 2019 Letter to Siegel
TOPIC: Individualized Education Programs (IEP) Transfer Provisions
Addresses a series of questions regarding a child with a disability who transfers to a new local educational agency (LEA) during the summer.
January 29, 2019 Letter to Duncan
TOPIC: Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities
Addresses whether a department of corrections fails to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under IDEA to students with disabilities.
January 29, 2019 Letter to Nathan
TOPIC: Discipline Procedures
Provides clarification on a series of questions regarding the protections for children not yet determined eligible for special education and related services under IDEA.
January 29, 2019 Letter to Wayne
TOPIC: Children with Disabilities Placed in Private Schools by their Parents
Addresses a local educational agency’s (LEA’s) obligation to a parentally placed private school child with a disability when the child’s parent does not request a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for the child.
January 29, 2019 Letter to Zirkel
TOPIC: Response to Intervention (RTI)
Addresses a series of questions regarding the implementation of response to intervention (RTI) and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS).
September 8, 2017 to Brian Radziwill
TOPIC: Children with Disabilities Placed in Private Schools by their Parents
February 27, 2017 to Anonymous
TOPIC: Individualized Education Programs—Postsecondary Goals
February 27, 2017 to Patrick Zacchini
TOPIC: Confidentiality of Education Records (Destruction of Information)
January 18, 2017 to Lisa Pugh
TOPIC: Individualized Education Programs (Progress Reporting)
August 23, 2016 to Martha Goodman
TOPIC: Children with Disabilities Placed in Private Schools by their Parents and Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS)
Attachments provided to OSEP from the Office of General Council (OGC):
G.L.; Mr. G.L., Mrs. E.L., in their own right v. Ligonier Valley School District Authority, Appellant
G.L., Mr. G.L., Mrs. E.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District Authority, No. 14-1387, Amicus Curiae Letter Brief
July 6, 2015 to Edward Sarzynski
TOPIC: Parentally Placed Private School Children with Disabilities
May 19, 2015 to Heather S. Deaton
TOPIC: State Identification and Correction of Noncompliance
February 9, 2011 to Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association President Brad Hutton and National Association of State Directors of Special Education Director Bill East
TOPIC: Early Childhood Transition
MS Word (53KB) | PDF (1.8MB)
Section 607 Reports
Section 607 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act amendments of 1997 requires that the Secretary of Education, on a quarterly basis, publish in the Federal Register a list of correspondence. This listing includes quarterly reports published from 4th Quarter 2000. These letters are indexed in the Section 607 Reports.
Topic Index of OSEP Policy Documents
OSEP also maintains a Topic Index of OSEP policy documents.