Parents May Use FMLA to Attend an IEP Meeting

On August 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued opinion letter FMLA2019-2-A which set forth that employees may take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to attend a meeting to discuss the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for a child.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) required public schools to develop an IEP for students that receive especial education and related services. In developing the IEP, the school is to receive input from the child and the child’s parents, teachers, administrators, and related service personnel. Related Services, under IDEA, includes various services such as counseling services, medical services, physical therapy, and speech therapy.

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In reaching its opinion that attendance at an IEP is “care for a family member…with a serious health condition” under FMLA, the DOL relied upon the following facts:

  • Child had qualifying serious health conditions.
  • The parent already received a certification from the child’s doctor to support intermittent leave to care for children, which was approved by the employer.
  • Child receives prescribed occupational, speech, and physical therapy provided by the school district.
  • Schools hold IEP meetings four times a year to review educational and medical needs, and that therapists, teachers, and administrators participate in the IEP meeting.
  • Meetings set forth student progress and areas of concern, review doctor recommendations and new test results, and that recommendations for additional therapies may be discussed.

Ask Kit Kat: Giant Parrots of the Past

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about giant parrots of the past which once roamed New Zealand?

Kit Kat: Well, this is another interesting story. Apparently, New Zealand, somewhat like its neighbor Australia, is home to some unique species. Today, New Zealand has some unusual parrots which are much larger than the varieties in the Americas. The Kakapo is so large that it cannot fly. Keas, who have extremely sharp beaks, are quite strong and can, if they have a mind to, attack sheep and pull rubber parts off cars. However, now scientists have discovered an even larger, prehistoric parrot, which they think may have been close to 3 feet tall and weighing close to 15.4 pounds. That’s as heavy as some bowling balls are! Researchers named the new species Heracles inexpectatus: Heracles to connote strength, and inexpectatus, because they were completely surprised by the discovery. It was found near St. Bathans on New Zealand’s South Island. They officially announced the find on August 6, 2019 through publication in Biology Letters.  This particular spot is rich in previously unknown species. A large burrowing bat had also been discovered in the vicinity.

Actually, the bird’s size misled the scientists initially. The bones were found in 2008. At first, it was thought it belonged to the eagle family. Then in early 2019, Ellen Mather, a graduate student at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia realized the bones had been misidentified. On re-examination, Ms. Mather and Dr.Trevor Worthy, her mentor and professor, realized the two leg bones had characteristics found only in parrots. Because of the location of where the bones were discovered, they think the parrot dates to the early Miocene period, a period which ranged from 16-19 million years ago. Because the bones were quite “solid and heavy,” Dr. Worthy hypothesizes that the Heracles was flightless and had a diet of seeds and fruit. The research team plans to visit St. Bathans later this year to determine whether there are any more fossils related to this particular species of parrot. (Cara Giaimo, “These Giant Parrots Once Roamed New Zealand,” The New York Times (Trilobites) , August 6, 2019)

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