Parents May Take FMLA Leave for Special Education Meetings

A parent’s attendance at IEP meetings is essential, but some parents may struggle to take time off in order to attend these meetings. If this sounds like you, you are in luck! A recently published opinion from the Department of Labor (DOL) details how parents can take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in order to attend meetings to develop your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), known in Connecticut as PPT meetings.

WHAT HAPPENED

On August 8, 2019 the DOL Wage and Hour Division published an opinion that employees may take leave under the FMLA in order to attend PPT meetings for their children.

The FMLA allows eligible employees of certain employers to take unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. Eligible employees may take time off in order to care for the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition.

The DOL concludes that a parent of a child who has a “serious health conditions as certified by a health care provider – is a qualifying reason for taking intermittent FMLA leave” in order to attend IEP meetings. The DOL clarified that “to care for” includes “to make arrangements for changes in care” regardless of whether or not these changes involve a medical treatment facility.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU

Under the Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA) parents are members of the IEP team. The school is required to invite the parent and schedule the IEP meetings “at a mutually agreed time and place.” (34 CFR 300.322 (a)(2).) Despite the language stating that the meeting must occur at a “mutually agreed time and place,” school districts rarely schedule PPT’s outside of regular school hours, which is when most parents work. The DOL opinion may ease the burden for parents whose employers may have previously not allowed them to take time off in order to attend IEP meetings.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Parents should check with their employers to see if they are eligible to take advantage of the FMLA to attend IEP meetings. Visit the DOL Family and Medical Leave Act for more specific information regarding the FMLA.

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