Special Education

Memorandum from Russell Johnston regarding DESE's appointment of an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ombudsperson

To:Superintendents, Special Education Administrators, Business and Other Education Personnel, Private School Directors, Parents, and Other Interested Parties
From:Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner and State Director of Special Education
Date:June 8, 2018

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) has appointed an ombudsperson to facilitate communication with private schools, parents, and public school districts about the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements regarding students with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private schools. The ombudsperson will serve as the Department's primary point of contact for addressing questions and concerns from private school officials, parents, and school districts regarding the provision of equitable services to parentally-placed private school students with disabilities and the funding of those services through a proportionate share of federal IDEA grant funds.

The ombudsperson for IDEA private school issues is the same person who is designated to serve as the Department's ombudsman under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to monitor and ensure that other federal equitable services requirements are carried out under both Title I and Title VIII (comprising Titles II-A, III-A, and Title IV-A&B) of the law. With regard to IDEA requirements, the ombudsperson will work in partnership with other Department offices that have specific responsibilities for monitoring, auditing, resolving complaints, and implementing IDEA requirements. As necessary, the ombudsperson will refer questions and concerns to the appropriate Department office for response.

Additionally, the ombudsperson will be the designated recipient of the required documentation from school districts regarding timely and meaningful consultation in accordance with the IDEA's requirements. IDEA requires that, if private school representatives participating in timely and meaning consultation activities do not sign written affirmation of participation within a reasonable period of time, the district must forward documentation of the consultation process to the Department. See 34 CFR § 300.135(b).

Contact the IDEA Equitable Services Ombudsperson by mail at:
IDEA Equitable Services Ombudsperson
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148

or by email at IDEAequitableservices@doe.mass.edu.

Last Updated: June 8, 2018

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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