Supporting ELs through the MTSS Process

*From the Dear Colleague Letter 2015

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) address the rights of students with disabilities in the education context.60 The Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, a component of ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, administers the IDEA. OCR and DOJ share authority for enforcing Section 504 in the educational context, and DOJ coordinates enforcement of Section 504 across Federal agencies.61 SEAs and school districts must ensure that all EL students who may have a disability, like all other students who may have a disability and need services under IDEA or Section 504, are located, identified, and evaluated for special education and disability-related services in a timely manner. When conducting such evaluations, school districts must consider the English language proficiency of EL students in determining the appropriate assessments and other evaluation materials to be used. School districts must not identify or determine that EL students are students with disabilities because of their limited English language proficiency. School districts must provide EL students with disabilities with both the language assistance and disability-related services.62 to which they are entitled under Federal law. Districts must also inform a parent of an EL student with an individualized education program (IEP) how the language instruction education program meets the objectives of the child’s IEP.63 The Departments are aware that some school districts have a formal or informal policy of “no dual services,” i.e., a policy of allowing students to receive either EL services or special education services, but not both. Other districts have a policy of delaying disability evaluations of EL students for special education and related services for a specified period of time based on their EL status.64< These policies are impermissible under the IDEA and Federal civil rights laws, and the Departments expect SEAs to address these policies in monitoring districts’ compliance with Federal law. Further, even if a parent of an EL student with a disability declines disability related services under the IDEA or Section 504, that student with a disability remains entitled to all EL rights and services as described in this guidance.65

The MTSS Process


Updated December 6, 2021 3:43pm