OSERS issues “Dear Colleague Letter” regarding positive behavior interventions and supports

On August 1, 2016, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) on the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities when needed.

While Dear Colleague Letters are not to be interpreted as law, they are considered significant guidance from the federal government. This letter clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions calls into question whether or not children with disabilities are receiving appropriate positive behavioral supports and interventions. Additionally, the letter explains the possibility that a child is not receiving a free appropriate public education if IEP teams do not consider and provide for needed behavioral supports.

The Maine Department of Education is informing Maine schools about this document and the advice that it contains in order to increase schools’ awareness of their responsibilities towards children with disabilities who also present behavior challenges.

The Dear Colleague Letter can be found at www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline.