OSEP Dear Colleague Letters & Policy Letters

OSEP provides information, guidance and clarification regarding implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in a number of ways including OSEP Memos and Dear Colleague Letters, and OSEP Policy Letters.
These are listed below in chronological order starting from the most recent issuance and going back to 2001.  To locate a letter from the chronological listing click on the year below:


Here are a list of the latest Dear Colleague letters:

July 31, 2020
Letter to Anonymous

TOPICS: Mediation
PDF (253KB)
Addresses whether a parent may be required to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to participate in mediation under Part B of the IDEA. (PDF)

June 9, 2020
Letter to State Directors

TOPICS: Assessments
PDF (198KB)
Addresses the requirements to request a waiver for the 2020–21 school year (SY) from the one percent cap on the percentage of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who may be assessed with an alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS). (PDF)

June 8, 2020
Letter to Anonymous

TOPICS: Use of Funds
PDF (420KB)
Addresses the use of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B funds to pay hearing officers to conduct due process hearings under IDEA.

November 22, 2019
Letter to Breeskin
TOPICS: Educational Placements
 PDF (369KB)
Addresses the role of parents in determining the educational placement of a child with a disability, including how far from home the child will be educated.

October 23, 2019
Letter to Anonymous

TOPICS: Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)State Complaints
PDF (271KB)
Addresses questions regarding the provision of compensatory education after a family relocates to a new state.

September 9, 2019
Letter to Anonymous

TOPICS: Individualized Education Program Team MeetingsEvaluations and Reevaluations
PDF (200KB)
Addresses questions regarding:

  1. the participation of children with disabilities in IEP Team Meetings and other meetings held to discuss the results of testing, the child’s evaluation or reevaluation, or the child’s identified disability category (particularly secondary transition-aged youth); and
  2. provision of assessment reports to meeting participants, including the parents, prior to the meeting at which the assessment results will be discussed.

September 9, 2019
Letter to Rowland

TOPICS: Individualized Education ProgramsEducational Placements
PDF (184KB)
Addresses a series of questions regarding the development of IEPs of children placed in certain preschool programs, including whether a public agency may restrict the provision of a specific related service based solely on the child’s placement in a particular program.

July 3, 2019
Letter to Zirkel

TOPIC: State Complaints
PDF (247KB)
Addresses a series of questions regarding a state educational agency’s (SEA’s) complaint procedures process, in particular, about enforcement actions and resolution of state complaints.

May 13, 2019
Letter to Zirkel

TOPICS: State ComplaintsDue Process Hearings
PDF (194KB)
Addresses a series of questions regarding the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state complaint and due process hearing procedures.

May 2, 2019
Letter to Haller

TOPIC: Individualized Education Programs (IEP) Team Meetings
PDF (188KB)
Addresses whether a school district may invite an observer to an individualized education program (IEP) Team meeting.

May 2, 2019
Letter to Mills

TOPICS: Evaluations and ReevaluationsPrior Written Notice
PDF (213KB)
Addresses a series of questions resulting from a functional vision assessment by an optometrist.

May 2, 2019
Letter to Zirkel

TOPIC: Independent Educational Evaluations 
PDF (137KB)
Addresses a parent’s right to an IEE when the child has been evaluated and found not to be a child with a disability in need of special education and related services.

February 22, 2019
Letter to Olex

TOPIC: Transition to Postsecondary Education
PDF (141KB)
Addresses whether parental consent is required prior to conducting “age appropriate transition assessments” referenced in the IDEA Part B transition services provisions.

February 21, 2019
Letter to Siegel

TOPIC: Individualized Education Programs (IEP) Transfer Provisions
PDF (161KB)
Addresses a series of questions regarding a child with a disability who transfers to a new local educational agency (LEA) during the summer.

January 29, 2019
Letter to Duncan

TOPIC: Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities
PDF (145KB)
Addresses whether a department of corrections fails to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under IDEA to students with disabilities.

January 29, 2019
Letter to Nathan

TOPIC: Discipline Procedures
PDF (164KB)
Provides clarification on a series of questions regarding the protections for children not yet determined eligible for special education and related services under IDEA.

January 29, 2019
Letter to Wayne

TOPIC: Children with Disabilities Placed in Private Schools by their Parents
PDF (136KB)
Addresses a local educational agency’s (LEA’s) obligation to a parentally placed private school child with a disability when the child’s parent does not request a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for the child.

January 29, 2019
Letter to Zirkel

TOPIC: Response to Intervention (RTI)
PDF (136KB)
Addresses a series of questions regarding the implementation of response to intervention (RTI) and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS).

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