By JULIE SIMS
Just in time for the new school year, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an opinion letter stating that parents may use FMLA leave to attend Committee on Special Education (CSE) meetings to discuss Individualized Education Programs (IEP) for their children with serious health conditions.
A parent may use his or her FMLA leave to attend IEP meetings for a child who has a qualifying serious health condition under the FMLA. The DOL stated that attendance at IEP meetings is covered as care for a family member with a serious health condition.
Specifically, these meetings include making arrangements for changes in care under the applicable federal regulations. The IEP meetings discussed in the opinion are held four times per school year and include the participation of a speech pathologist, school psychologist, occupational therapist, and/or physical therapist. Although no doctors typically attend these meetings, the child’s wellbeing and medical needs are discussed in addition to educational needs.
Employers will need to determine whether a school meeting is an FMLA-covered IEP meeting or a meeting that is clearly not covered, such as a student disciplinary meeting. If an IEP meeting includes making decisions concerning an employee’s child’s medically prescribed speech, physical, or occupational therapy in order to ensure that the child’s school environment is suitable to her medical, social, and academic needs, that employee is eligible for FMLA leave for the IEP meeting.