30 Compensatory Education and Settlement of Disputes


Chapter Revision Date:

Students are entitled to receive all services exactly as listed on their IEP.

On the rare occasion when services have not been provided, e.g., the service provider is ill, on leave of absence, not yet assigned to the site, a student is still owed the service(s), which must be provided at another time. Sometimes parents will ask for something in exchange for missed service hours or IEP procedural errors resulting in missed services. A description of make-up and compensatory services are listed below.

30.1 Make-Up Services

The district is responsible to implement the agreed upon IEP. If services are missed, they must be made up. Generally, there is no need to document make-up services in an IEP. If services were missed for an extended period of time (i.e. more than a few sessions that can easily be made up in the normal course of the school year), the case manager must consult with the district level support person for assistance in writing a letter to the parent describing how the missed services will be made up. Make-up services must be logged and a copy provided for the special education container and the parent.

There is no requirement for make-up services if the student is absent, only when the service provider is unable to provide the service (due to absence, testing, attendance at an IEP team meeting, etc.).

30.2 Compensatory Services

Occasionally, a parent will ask for compensatory education services to make up for a failure to implement an IEP. The IEP team can agree upon compensatory education services where they determine it is necessary to provide FAPE. "Compensatory" does not necessarily mean the exact amount of time or sessions, rather compensatory services are designed to compensate for the value of what was missed. If the student received some educational benefit even without the missed services, any offer of compensatory services would be weighted by any "harm" from the loss of services. The case manager must consult with district administrative personnel (Program Manager or Site Special Education Administrator) before offering compensatory education. Compensatory services are not an on-going offer of a FAPE, so a letter delineating how and where compensatory services will be provided will suffice. If compensatory services are offered, they must be logged and a copy provided for the special education container and the parent.

30.3 Compensatory Services - Due Process

IEP meetings are not the best place to settle disputes over services. If the district decides to provide more or less than FAPE to resolve a dispute, a formal settlement agreement should be drafted. In this instance, the case manager must notify the District level support staff.

The District level support staff will:

  1. Review the case with the case manager to determine the issues and attempt to resolve them.
  2. Notify the site administrator of the issues and the attempts made to resolve them.
  3. Contact the special education program manager/administrator to discuss if a district due process filing is warranted.

If the program manager/administrator determines that a request for due process is appropriate, a "Request for Due Process" memorandum MUST be completed and signed by the program manager. (Program managers have a template of this memorandum.) The memorandum, along with the required documents, must be sent to the program manager for Due Process for review.

In a due process hearing, compensatory education may be awarded if a district fails to provide a free, appropriate public education to a student. However, it does not necessarily involve an obligation to provide day-for-day or session-for-session replacement for opportunity or time missed. If a student was not harmed by the loss of services, there may not be a need to provide compensatory services. Courts have held that if a student continued to make educational progress despite missing services, s/he may not require compensatory education services.

Contact Information:

Jennifer Parks-Orozco



Eugene Brucker Education Center

4100 Normal Street, Annex 7