That “frequency and duration” thing….

I haven’t heard a lot about “frequency and duration” of late, but there was a time when there was much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the requirement in IDEA to specify the “frequency and duration” of related services.  Thus IEPs should not say that physical therapy will be provided “from time to time” or “when we can” or “as circumstances permit.”  No.  The IEP must say how often, and how long each session will be. 

This came up in a lawsuit in Los Angeles.  The court held that the IEP failed to specify the frequency of related services. For example, the IEP called for services for a specific number of minutes “from one to five times per month.”  The parents could not determine the exact amount of services and it didn’t help the school’s cause that three district therapists gave conflicting explanations for how this would work.  On the other hand, the court rejected the argument that the district was required to specify whether services would be provided in a group or one-to-one.  The court noted that the law requires a statement of “frequency and duration” but “there is no requirement that an IEP must indicate whether services will be provided in individual or group settings.”

It's a common sense test. The parent should be able to read the IEP and immediately know exactly how often each related service will be provided, and for how long.  I have an individualized plan that incorporates this concept.  For example, it includes:

The Dawg will nap once a day for 20 minutes.

There you go: frequency and duration. 

It’s Los Angeles USD v. A.O., decided by the federal court for the Central District of California on January 26, 2022.   It’s published in Special Ed Connection at 80 IDELR 98.


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Tomorrow: was it disability discrimination?