Providing physical education for children with disabilities

Under Maine’s system of learning results, each student is required to study and achieve proficiency in the eight content areas, including health, physical education and wellness.  In addition to State requirements, federal regulation implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires that states  follow 34 CFR 300.108 Physical Education.

The State must ensure that public agencies in the state comply with the following:

(a) General. Physical education services, specially designed if necessary, must be made available to every child with a disability receiving Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), unless the public agency enrolls children without disabilities and does not provide physical education to children without disabilities in the same grades.

(b) Regular physical education. Each child with a disability must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the regular physical education program available to nondisabled children unless:

(1) The child is enrolled full time in a separate facility; or

(2) The child needs specially designed physical education, as prescribed in the child’s IEP.

(c) Special physical education. If specially designed physical education is prescribed in a child’s IEP, the public agency responsible for the education of that child must provide the services directly or make arrangements for those services to be provided through other public or private programs.

(d) Education in separate facilities. The public agency responsible for the education of a child with a disability who is enrolled in a separate facility must ensure that the child receives appropriate physical education services in compliance with this section.

Because physical education is a required component of special education, a child’s physical education teacher should be included as a member of the IEP team. Further, physical therapy is not a substitute for physical education; therefore, when a child’s IEP requires the provision of physical therapy as a related service, the IEP team must ensure that it is not provided in place of, or as a substitute for, physical education for that child.

If you have questions about this requirement, please contact Maine DOE’s Office of Special Services Director Jan Breton at

2 thoughts on “Providing physical education for children with disabilities

  1. If they’re discussing PE (or adaptive PE), it would be mandatory. Otherwise, their involvement is discretionary.

  2. Please clarify that having the PE teacher as a member of the IEP team is discretionary, not mandatory.

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