OSEP Letter Reinforces that Services are Based on Student's Individual Needs

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As we know, special education services for children with disabilities are provided to meet the individual needs of the particular student with a disability. Still, it is good to see the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), confirm that point to a state director of special education in Letter to Koscielniak, 112 LRP 9475 (OSEP Dec. 19, 2011). In her letter the state director asked whether: (1) a school district could cease providing speech-language services to a student who was no longer making progress; and (2) whether the district could rely on the American Speech Hearing Association Guidelines (ASHA) to make the decision to terminate services.

In its response OSEP made clear that school districts may not rely solely on a universally applicable standard (such as the ASHA guidelines) to end a student's related services. Moreover, the decision to end services cannot be the unilateral choice of the student's service provider. The determination must be reached through the IEP process and involve the input of the parents and school officials. If the IEP team determines that a child needs to continue to receive speech therapy (or other related services) that IEP team must continue to include that service on the child's IEP, despite the ASHA (or other universally applicable standard) guidelines.

So, as always in the special education process, services are provided or not provided based on the student's individual needs as determined by the IEP team.