Winter 2014

Maintenance of Effort

Maintenance of Effort

The term “Maintenance of Effort,” or MOE, refers to the IDEA requirement that school districts, or local education agencies (LEAs), expend the same amount of local/state funding for special education and related services as it expended in the previous fiscal year. Rules related to an LEA’s MOE are found at 34 C.F.R. § 300.203. Failure to meet MOE requirements may result in the LEA losing eligibility to receive IDEA funding and requiring an LEA to repay funds to the state, which is required to send the funds to the U.S. Department of Education.
 
The Secretary of Education proposed to amend regulations under Part B of IDEA, which govern the Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities program. Through a notice of prposed rule making (NRM), the Secretary sought public comment on proposed amendments to the regulation regarding local MOE to clarify existing policy and make other related changes regarding: 1) the compliance standard; 2) the eligibility standard; 3) the level of effort required of an LEA in the year after it fails to maintain effort under the IDEA; 4) and the consequence for a failure to maintain local effort. The Secretary also sought comment on whether states and LEAs or other interested parties think the proposed amendments will be helpful in increasing understanding of, and ensuring compliance with, the current local MOE requirements. Specifically, the Secretary sought comment from states and LEAs to identify where they are experiencing the most problems in implementing the MOE requirements.
 
LAF, together with 22 Texas school districts, submitted comments to the new rules in response to the NPRM. The comment letter made the following five points:
 

  1. An LEA’s duty to provide FAPE should be an important consideration in determining MOE compliance requirements.
  2. The NPRM correctly recognizes the need for calculation options for the LEA.
  3. The NPRM should allow the LEA to make full use of the four options to calculate MOE.
  4. The NPRM should honor the specific language of the Act with regard to calculation of the baseline for MOE compliance.
  5. The Department must recognize the need for spending flexibility in promulgating revised rules.

 
Generally, the intent of the comments are to suggest changes in the rules that will give school districts the flexibility to provide required special education services without substantial financial penalties given the great fluctuations in funding recently from the state and federal governments.
 
34 C.F.R. § 300 [Docket ID ED-2012-OSERS-0020] RIN: 1820-AB65 Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities LAF’s Attorney: Chris Borreca, Thompson & Horton, LLP, Houston