Sneak Preview: Problems Cited with MOE Flexibility Oversight

September 5, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Several state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) recently reviewed by the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General did not always comply with laws and regulations related to funds made available through maintenance of effort flexibility in ED’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. OIG recommended that ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services improve oversight at the state level of the use of those funds.

ED requires maintenance of effort in many programs to ensure that LEAs do not spend federal funds in place of state and local dollars already targeted for special education programs. MOE ensures grant recipients spend their state and local funds for programs and activities that would be provided if federal dollars were not available. The underlying principle is to ensure an LEA is responsible for maintaining effort from year to year and is using federal funds to supplement, not supplant local funds.

LEAs receiving IDEA funds must meet an annual MOE requirement that prohibits them from using IDEA funds to reduce the level of local expenditures for educating children with disabilities below the level of those expenditures for the preceding fiscal year, unless it meets an exception or adjustment provision specified in the law.

The exception provision provides that an LEA does not have to meet the MOE requirement if: special education personnel leave voluntarily; fewer children with disabilities enroll; the LEA no longer needs to provide exceptionally costly special education services to a disabled child; and costly expenditures for long-term purchases have ended. Under the adjustment provision, an LEA may reduce its local special education spending from one year to the next by up to a specified amount based on IDEA federal funding it receives. Under IDEA, states may only reduce their level of local financial support below the amount of support for the previous year if it is granted a waiver for exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances or it uses the adjustment provision.

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