BFS Learning Blog

IDEA-B, LEA, and MOE Exceptions:

Part 1: Voluntary Departure of Personnel

Cindy Watson

34 CFR 300.204(a) – Voluntary Departure or Departure for Just Cause of Special Education or Related Services Personnel
The purpose of the IDEA-B LEA MOE allowable exceptions is to allow LEAs to reduce the level of their state and/or local expenditures below the level of those expenditures for the last compliant fiscal year. This means, that exceptions lower the total expenditure amount (the baseline/level amount) an LEA must spend each year from state and local budgets. While the result of claiming exceptions may bring an LEA into compliance with the MOE requirement, it is because the expenditure baseline is lowered (the intended purpose). To ensure the state and local baseline expenditures are not overstated with costs related to unclaimed exceptions, eligible exceptions should be claimed every year regardless of compliance status.

Voluntary Departure of Personnel is one of the most overlooked exceptions by LEAs when they comply with the MOE requirement.

34 CFR 300.204, states that an LEA may reduce the level of its state and/or local expenditures for the voluntary departure, by retirement or otherwise, or departure for just cause, of special education or related services personnel.

This exception should be claimed every year for all personnel coded to state/local special education program funds that departed by their own choice (voluntary) for almost any reason (i.e. retirement, acceptance of a different job, relocation, and even death), due to Just Cause, and in which the departure caused a reduction in expenditures for the position between the two years being compared. This exception should not be claimed for employees who were reassigned to another position or were part of a reduction in force.

“The decreased difference in expenditures between the departing year and the replacement year should be claimed as exceptions when eligible.”

What this means is (using Joan Smith and John Jones as hypothetical employees):

Background: Joan Smith left her position at Somewhere ISD during the 2020-2021 school year. Her total salary for the year was $60,000.

I. Part or all of Joan Smith’s salary is considered an exception for the 2021-2022 MOE compliance review under the following scenarios:

        A. Joan Smith left the position by her own choice (voluntarily) for reasons such as:

                 1. Retirement
                 2. Acceptance of another position
                 3. Relocation (moving to a different town, city, state, etc.)
                 4. Personal reasons – wanting to be at home; feeling like the position is not a good fit, etc.

       B. Joan Smith’s departure created a decrease in the position costs in 2021-2022 compared to 2020-2021. Examples:

                 1. If the position was not filled after her departure due to being eliminated, her entire salary of $60,000 is an eligible exception.                                                                                                   2. If the position was not filled after her departure in 2020-2021 and during 2021-2022 due to not having a qualified applicant, her entire salary of $60,000 is an eligible                               exception.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             3. If the combined salary of 2020-2021, is greater than the replacement employee’s 2021-2022 salary. Example                                                                                                                                       • Departing/Replacement Employee Information                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      o Departing Employee – Joan Smith – 2020-2021 Salary $60,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                o Replacement Employee – John Jones – 2020-2021 Salary $20,000                                                                                                                                                                                                        o Replacement Employee – John Jones – 2021-2022 Salary $45,000                                                                                                                                                                                               • Decrease in position costs/eligible exception – $35,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       o The position’s total salary for 2020-2021 was $80,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 o The position’s total salary for 2021-2022 was $45,000

                  4. If the position was filled 2021-2022, by an employee whose total salary in 2021-2022 was less than Joan Smith’s 2020-2021 salary. Example:                                                                           • Departing/Replacement Employee Informationo Departing Employee – Joan Smith – 2020-2021 Salary $60,000                                                                                                                                    o Replacement Employee – John Jones – 2021-2022 Salary $45,000                                                                                                                                                                                               • Decrease in position costs/eligible exception – $15,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      o The position’s total salary for 2020-2021 was $60,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                o The position’s total salary for 2021-2022 was $45,000

II. None of Joan Smith’s salary is considered an exception for the 2021-2022 MOE compliance review under the following scenarios:

       A. Joan Smith left the position involuntarily due to one of the following reasons:                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Reassignment to a different position                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Reduction in force                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Other circumstances beyond the employee’s control that were under the direction of LEA (but not considered a Just Cause reason)

       B. If the position was filled in 2020-2021 by an employee whose 2020-2021 salary, when combined with her 2020-2021 salary, is greater than the replacement employee’s 2021-                2022 salary. Example:

                          • Departing/Replacement Employee Information                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       o Departing Employee – Joan Smith – 2020-2021 Salary $60,000                                                                                                                                                                                                               o Replacement Employee – John Jones – 2020-2021 Salary $5,000                                                                                                                                                                                                           o Replacement Employee – John Jones – 2021-2022 Salary $75,000

                          • Decrease in position costs/eligible exception – $0.00                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            o The position’s total salary for 2020-2021 was $65,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                o The position’s total salary for 2021-2022 was $75,000

     C. If the position was filled 2021-2022, by an employee whose total salary in 2021-2022 was greater than Joan Smith’s 2020-2021 salary. Example:                                                                                      • Departing/Replacement Employee Information                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      o Departing Employee – Joan Smith – 2020-2021 Salary $60,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                o Replacement Employee – John Jones – 2021-2022 Salary $75,000 • Decrease in position costs/eligible exception – $0.00                                                                                                      o The position’s total salary for 2020-2021 was $60,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                o The position’s total salary for 2021-2022 was $75,000

It is important to monitor and record all departures of employees coded to state/local special education funds, the eventual replacements (if replaced), the basis for the departure, and the employees’ total salary for the years. This will allow your LEA to identify the decreases in position costs. Because the IDEA-B LEA MOE for a fiscal year is conducted after the year-end, having a record of the departures and replacements will allow an LEA to quickly identify the eligible exceptions.

 

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