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U.S. Department of Education Tells States To Step Up IDEA Compliance; Autism Alliance of Michigan Comments

Citing a pattern of failures, federal education officials are issuing new guidance pressuring states to improve their oversight of special education programs.

The 45-page document released this week by the U.S. Department of Education outlines steps that states should take to enhance their monitoring of IDEA and ensure compliance in school districts and early intervention programs.

Specifically, it indicates that states should monitor every school district and early intervention program at least once every six years and states “may not ignore credible allegations about potential noncompliance” even if they come outside of the regular visit cycle. In cases where a program is not compliant, states must issue such a finding in a timely manner, generally within three months, and they must ensure that the issue is corrected for each individual child, the guidance states.

“While the federal government provides grants to states under IDEA, it is the state’s responsibility to educate students with disabilities in accordance with the law. This guidance underscores each state’s general supervision responsibility to meet the purpose of IDEA and ensure that all school-age children, regardless of the nature or severity of their disability, can access (a free appropriate public education) in the least restrictive environment and that infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families receive appropriate early intervention services to the maximum extent appropriate,” said Valerie C. Williams, director of the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs.