The Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter on August 8, 2019 in response to whether or not an employee may take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to attend a Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting to discuss their child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

In this case a woman received certification from her children’s doctors supporting her need to take periodic leave to care for her two children. Her employer approved intermittent FMLA leave to take the children to medical appointments but denied her request to use FMLA time off to attend IEP meetings.

The DOL concluded based on the facts provided that the mother’s need to attend IEP meetings is a qualifying reason for taking intermittent FMLA leave.

The DOL stated “…attendance at these CSE/IEP meetings is ‘care for a family member … with a serious health condition.’” The DOL went on to say “….it appears that your wife’s attendance at IEP meetings is “essential to [her] ability to provide appropriate physical or psychological care” to your children.”

The DOL said the employee’s attendance helps meeting participants:

  • Make medical decisions concerning her children’s medically prescribed speech, physical and occupational therapy. 
  • Discuss her children’s well-being and progress with the therapy providers.
  • Ensure her children’s school environment is suitable to their medical, social and academic needs.

The children’s doctor does not have to be present at the meetings for the time off to qualify for FMLA leave, the DOL wrote.

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