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Therapeutic Classrooms

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What is a therapeutic classroom?

"Therapeutic classroom" means a classroom designed for the purpose of providing support for any student, with or without an Individualized Education Program (IEP), whose emotional, social, or behavioral needs interfere with the student’s ability to be successful in the current educational environment, with or without supports, until the student is able to successfully return to the student’s current education environment, with or without supports, including but not limited to the general education classroom.

A school district may include therapeutic classrooms as part of its district’s or building’s tiers of supports. The word “classroom” is a descriptor of an educational set of services that create the educational environment that may include but is not required to include a separate physical setting from other students.

For a more comprehensive definition of therapeutic classroom see Iowa Administrative Code 281-14.

Therapeutic classroom requirements?

A school district is not required to operate a therapeutic classroom; however, a school district is required to ensure therapeutic services are available, whether in-district or otherwise, to students who need those services to access or benefit from an education.

For state reporting and reimbursement purposes to be considered a therapeutic classroom the program/classroom must serve both students with and without IEPs and include all the components listed in Iowa Administrative Code 281-14.13.

Reporting Requirements

  • Each fall, districts are required to report within Consolidated Accountability and Support Application (CASA) the number of therapeutic classrooms they operate.
  • Districts must report transfers and referrals to therapeutic classrooms using their student information system.
  • By Nov. 1 of each year the Department of Education must provide an annual report to the legislators regarding therapeutic classroom referrals and transfers.


When a district provides therapeutic services to a student without an IEP, they may seek reimbursement for therapeutic services and transportation.

  • Reimbursement of Therapeutic Services: Reimbursement is at a rate of 1.5 times the district cost per pupil for the number of days the student serves in a therapeutic classroom.
  • Reimbursement of Transportation: Districts may submit claims for students who are transported more than 30 miles to a therapeutic classroom outside the district.
  • To be considered for reimbursement, therapeutic classroom transfers must be recorded using the district student information system and students must not have an IEP.
  • Districts must submit a claim for reimbursement by June 15 of each school year.

This is legislated funding, and is in place as long as it is appropriated and until it is exhausted. See Iowa Administrative Code 281-14.14.

Implementation Resources

Therapeutic Classroom Grant

The therapeutic classroom grant is an annual competitive incentive grant awarded to districts for therapeutic classroom start-up costs.

Grant Resources