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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Alternative means of meeting participation (Sec. 300.328)

Comment: One commenter requested that electronic mail be used as an alternative means of communication for administrative matters if the parents and the public agency agree.

Discussion: There is nothing in the Act or these regulations that prohibits the use of electronic mail to carry out administrative matters under section 615 of the Act, so long as the parent of the child with a disability and the public agency agree.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters recommended that the regulations clarify that video conferences may be used to allow general education teachers to participate in IEP Team meetings.

Discussion: The regulations already address the use of video conferences. Section 300.328, consistent with section 614(f) of the Act, allows the use of video conferences and other alternative means of meeting participation if the parent of the child with a disability and the public agency agree.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended that the regulations specify that the cost of using alternative means of meeting participation shall be borne by the LEA and not the parent.

Discussion: If a public agency uses an alternative means of meeting participation that results in additional costs, the public agency is responsible for paying the additional costs. We do not believe it is necessary to include this additional language in the regulations. Section 300.101, consistent with section 612(a)(1)(A) of the Act, requires that the public education provided to children with disabilities must be free and appropriate. The benefits of including parents in the IEP process by providing alternative means by which parents can participate is an important part of ensuring that a child receives FAPE and far outweighs any additional costs for the alternative means of participation that a public agency may incur.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters recommended requiring the parent's agreement to use alternative means of meeting participation to conform to the consent requirements in Sec. 300.9.

Discussion: Section 614(f) of the Act allows the parent and a public agency to agree to use alternative means of meeting participation. Consent, as defined in Sec. 300.9 is not required by the Act. Therefore, we do not believe it should be required by regulation.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended that there be additional requirements when using alternative means of meeting participation. The commenter stated that parents should be informed of their right to refuse a telephone conference and should be required to provide consent at least seven days prior to the meeting. Another commenter recommended clarifying that alternative means of meeting should only be used when necessary.

Discussion: Section 614(f) of the Act allows a parent and a public agency to agree to use alternative means of meeting participation. The Act does not specify any additional requirements or restrictions. We view this provision as providing flexibility for parents and public agencies in arranging convenient meetings and believe that additional requirements would be inconsistent with that purpose.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended that the regulations require LEAs to provide the parent with an IEP in a timely manner (within five business days) when alternative means of meeting participation are used for an IEP Team meeting. The commenter stated this was necessary so that the parent can verify the contents of the IEP.

Discussion: New 300.322(f) (proposed Sec. 300.322(e)) requires the public agency to give the parent a copy of the child's IEP at no cost to the parent. We believe the specific timeframe in which the public agency provides a copy of the IEP to the parent is best left to the public agency to determine.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter stated that the requirements for alternative means of meeting participation in Sec. 300.328 should be placed in the regulations following Sec. 300.321, because the requirements add flexibility to the special education process.

Discussion: The requirements in Sec. 300.328, regarding alternative means of meeting participation, apply to IEP Team meetings as well as placement meetings, and carrying out administrative matters under section 615 of the Act. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to move Sec. 300.328 to the location in the regulations suggested by the commenter.

Changes: None.