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Special Education State Guidance


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General Guidance

Considerations for a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) - Addresses "free appropriate public education" as the foundational principle of IDEA and special education services in Iowa.

Distinguishing Schools and Programs: Decision Tree - Provides a decision tree to assist districts in understanding the related rules and ramifications surrounding whether the locations are a school or a program.

Placement of Students Ages 3-21 with Disabilities Under the IDEA - Guidance for teams making placement decisions for children with disabilities. It answers ten key questions about placement decisions, with supporting references from state and federal law.

Procedures and Guidelines for Assessment and Delivery of Special Education Services to Incarcerated Individuals in Iowa's Adult Correctional Facilities

AEA Procedures for Substitute Decision-Making

Minimum Standards for AEA Procedures - Substitute Decision-Making for Special Education - Provides standards for area education agencies (AEAs) to appoint substitute decision makers for children with disabilities who are at least 18 years old but incapable of making educational decisions and do not have a guardian.


Athletic Eligibility

Athletic Eligibility and Students with Disabilities - Guidance on applying the State rule on athletic eligibility for students receiving special education.

Coordinated Early Intervention Services

Early Intervening Services Guidance Memo (August 2010) - Memo on permissible uses of 15% of Part B funds for coordinated early intervening services in general education.


COVID-19 Recovery Services for Learners Receiving IDEA Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Provides answers to frequently asked questions related to recovery services.

COVID-19 Webinar Recordings

  • Aug. 18, 2020 - Presenter Emily Rubin provides a discussion of what is needed to spark the drive for new learning, resilience and hope.
  • Aug. 11, 2020 - Addresses collaboration considerations, teaching and learning skills, paraprofessionals, tech resources for access and instruction, secondary transition, and supporting student behavior.
  • Aug. 4, 2020 - Resources for teachers to use as they collaborate with families of learners receiving special education through distance learning. The resources are organized around several stages of collaboration, including:
    • Pre-initial contact,
    • Initial contact with the family,
    • Educational preparation (pre-IEP),
    • Pre-instructional delivery,
    • Teacher planning/prep,
    • Virtual instructional delivery, and
    • Virtual instructional delivery feedback.
  • July 21, 2020 - Supports for IEP teams focused on identifying free appropriate public education for individuals eligible for special education, specifically in terms of placement decisions and progress monitoring, and guidance related to the planning of COVID-19 Recovery Services.
  • April 23, 2020 - Session dedicated to special education.

Every Student Succeeds Act

Children with Disabilities and 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program - Addresses questions about the participation of children with disabilities in 21st Century Community Learning Center programs and sets clear expectations.

The Relationship between Title I Services and Special Education Services - Explains the relationship between special education services and services under Title I of the ESSA.

Grades, Diplomas, and Transcripts

Grades Diplomas Transcript 2017 Supplement to 1999 - Provides interim guidance explaining whether the answers in the 1999 document are still current and how they differ in the revised document.

Nonpublic Schools and Special Education Services

Special Education and Nonpublic Schools Guidance

ICN Follow-Up Questions - Provides answers to the questions received during the 2010 ICN session regarding special education in nonpublic schools.

Revocation of Consent

Revocation of Consent for Continued Special Education Services - Addresses commonly asked questions that arise when a parent revokes consent for a child's continued special education services.

Revocation of Consent for Continued Special Education Services When Parents Disagree - Explains when one parent requests that special education services be ended, special education services must end, even when the other parent wants services to continue. Also provides guidance about how to determine whether a parent has sole power to make educational decisions.

Safe Classroom Learning Environments

Safe Classroom Learning Environments Guidance (Senate File 2260) - Provides a comprehensive approach to create a safe learning space for students and teachers. The legislation offers competitive grants and reimbursement for therapeutic classrooms. School requirements include annual reporting of incidents of assault and violence and limitations on the use of classroom clears.

School Behavioral Health Screening and Telehealth

School Behavioral Health Screening and Telehealth Guidance (Senate File 2261) - Expands the opportunities for students to access behavioral health services with a licensed professional mental health provider in a school setting via telehealth, with parent or guardian consent, and allows for school districts, accredited non-public schools, and Area Education Agencies (AEAs) to contract licensed mental health providers to conduct in-person, universal behavioral health screenings with parent or guardian permission.

Service Animals

Revised Regulations on Service Animals for Districts, Area Education Agencies, and Accredited Nonpublic Schools - Addresses issues associated with the use of service animals in school districts, AEAs, and accredited nonpublic schools. This document is in response to the United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) amended service animal regulations for titles II (districts and AEAs) and III (accredited nonpublic schools) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became effective on March 15, 2011.

Special Education Finance

Special Education Services in Difficult Budgetary Times - Explains when it is and is not permissible to consider cost or cost savings when deciding programs for eligible individuals.

Student Activity Issues in Special Education - An excerpt related to students with disabilities taken from the Student Activity Fund FAQ state guidance.

Special Education Withdrawal

Withdrawal from Special Education and Section 504 - Clarifies that parents who withdraw their children from special education are not entitled to demand Section 504 plans.

Additional i3 Resources

The Iowa Department of Education, area education agencies (AEAs), and districts have developed the i3 website to provide parents, families, educators, and partner agencies with a one-stop shop for procedures, guidance, and resources for both special education and early intervention. To access these resources, visit the Resources page within i3.