OSEP guidance letter on evidence-based behavioral supports and interventions August 1, 2016


The US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs provided this letter of guidance  August 1, 2016 to clarify that the failure to consider and provide for needed behavioral supports through the IEP process is likely to result in a child not receiving a meaningful educational benefit or FAPE. In addition, a failure to make behavioral supports available throughout a continuum of placements, including in a regular education setting, could result in an inappropriately restrictive placement and constitute a denial of placement in the LRE. While such determinations are necessarily individualized, this guidance is intended to focus attention on the need to consider and include evidence-based behavioral supports in IEPs that, when done with fidelity, often serve as effective alternatives to unnecessary disciplinary removals, increase participation in instruction, and may prevent the need for more restrictive placements. 

This guidance letter is organized into five areas:

  • IDEA’s procedural requirements regarding evaluations, eligibility determinations, IEPs, and behavioral supports;
  • IDEA’s IEP content requirements related to behavioral supports;
  • Circumstances that may indicate potential denials of FAPE or of placement in the LRE;
  • Implications for short-term disciplinary removals and other exclusionary disciplinary measures;
  • Conclusion, including additional information for parents and stakeholders.



Behavior Challenging Behavior Early Childhood Federal Laws Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Parent/Family Professional Development