There has been a long delay in the school providing assistive technology for my child while the school is searching for outside funding sources. Must a child wait for the device until the school locates a funding source?

If the IEP team has determined that an assistive device or service is necessary for a child’s free appropriate public education (FAPE), the school has an obligation to provide the assistive technology. It is permissible for the school to seek funding from outside sources (such as a charitable organization, agency, local corporation, etc.) to help pay for the device or service. However, the search for funding cannot delay implementation of a child’s IEP.

The Office of Special Education programs (OSEP) has addressed the issue in a policy letter relating to assistive technology. The letter states that “no delay is permissible between the time a child’s IEP is finalized and when special education and related services are provided.” The letter explains that there are some circumstances which require a short delay (e.g. working out transportation arrangements for an IEP meeting which occurs during the summer). However, the intent of the law and regulations is quite clear. Services set out in the IEP will be provided beginning immediately after the IEP is finalized. This may necessitate renting or leasing a device while seeking alternative funding sources.

Can a school make parents responsible for locating a funding source for educationally related assistive technology?

If it has been determined that an educationally-related device is needed for a student, the district cannot require a child’s parents to be responsible for locating funding sources. The district can request the involvement of the parents in the funding search, but it is the responsibility of the district to find a means of providing the device, not the parents. Devices or services related to a child’s education must be provided by the school without charge or without cost to the parents. Also, remember that if external funding cannot be arranged, the district still must provide the device as specified in the IEP.