Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education

Graphic of the flag of the USA.Updated January 2015

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education regularly provides guidance to the field on the nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). “Guidance” can take several forms:

  • OSEP’s correspondence in response to questions received from the field;
  • policy documents and letters on priority issues; and
  • non-regulatory guidance.

All are intended to clarify elements of the law and its regulations. Often, OSEP responds directly to questions from  state and local special education directors. These letters are an important part of understanding IDEA and how to implement it.

We are pleased to connect you with OSEP/DOE’s guidance and offer two kinds of information:

 Back to top


Where OSEP/DOE Posts Its Guidance on IDEA

OSEP’s Legislation and Policy Guidance

OSEP Policy Correspondence

 Back to top

OSEP/DOE Guidance on Specific Topics in IDEA

Looking for a particular guidance document on IDEA? We identify the more recent guidance below, as well as letters and memos on high-priority topics.  In alphabetical order, by topic:

2013 State Determination Letters
For both Parts C and Part B.

Access to Physical Education and Extracurricular Activities

Bullying | Keeping Students with Disabilities Safe from Bullying
Dear Colleague letter, with enclosure

Discipline Procedures
An informal Q&A, January 2007

An informal Q&A on how states and LEAs can take steps to address disproportionate representation of racial/ethnic groups in special education, June 2009

Dispute Resolution Procedures under Part B
A Q&A document, July 23, 2013

Early Intervening Services
Memorandum to the Chief State School Officers and the State Directors of Special Education, July 28, 2008

Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) Serving Children with Disabilities
An informal Q&A, January 2007

Homeless Children with Disabilities
Policy Guidance under Executive Order #13422, February 2008

IDEA Part B Supplemental Regulations
Non-regulatory guidance, December 2008

An informal Q&A, June 2010

IEPs, Evaluations, and Reevaluations
An informal Q&A, updated June 2010

Modified Academic Achievement Standards
Non-regulatory guidance, July 2007

Monitoring, Technical Assistance, and Enforcement
An informal Q&A, January 2007

NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards)
An informal Q&A, revised August 2010

Parental Consent for the Use of Public Benefits or Insurance to Pay for Services under IDEA
A non-regulatory Q&A guidance, February 14, 2013–qa.pdf

Procedural Safeguards and Due Process Procedures for Parents and Children with Disabilities
An informal Q&A, January 2007

Procedural Safeguards: Model Form
Updated July 2009

Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During an H1N1 Outbreak
Policy guidance, December 2009

RTI and Early Intervening Services (EIS)
An informal Q&A, January 2007

School Discipline and Climate Guidance Package
From DOE, a dear colleague letter, principles, compendium of school discipline laws and regulations, directory of available federal technical assistance, and more. January 8, 2014.

Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents at Private Schools
An informal Q&A, January 2007

An informal Q&A on IDEA’s requirements for serving children with disabilities eligible for transportation, November 2009.

Waiving Maintenance of Effort
This guidance is called “Process and Criteria Used to Evaluate a Request by States to Waive Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Requirements under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” Issued in June 2010.

Back to top