Department of Education Releases FAQs on Relief Program Funding
This week, the U.S. Department of Education released an FAQ document detailing how funding under the major supplemental pandemic-related relief bills can be used to respond to the effects of COVID-19 on students in pre-K-12 educational settings. Specifically, the document addresses the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, including the ESSER program of the American Rescue Plan, and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund.
The FAQs affirm that a Local Education Agency (LEA) may use ESSER and GEER funds to support students with disabilities for any activity authorized by the IDEA, among other allowable uses. For example, under section 611 of IDEA Part B, LEAs can provide support and services for children with disabilities including providing positive behavioral interventions and mental health services, hiring additional special education personnel, and supporting capacity-building activities to improve results for children with disabilities. Under section 619 of IDEA Part B to support preschoolers with disabilities, LEAs can hire additional service providers and train personnel adequately for the needs of preschoolers. Furthermore, under IDEA Part D, LEAs can provide additional funding for personnel preparation programs focused on increasing the number of qualified special education teachers and faculty.