THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
placement assistance, both for families
currently assigned overseas and for
families newly assigned and transferring
overseas from a domestic assignment.
Currently SNEA can only be used in
this manner while the family is assigned
overseas. Placement assistance is
required under IDEIA for children with
special needs; but under IDEIA, U.S.
local school districts are not obligated to
provide this once the parent or child is
no longer resident in their jurisdiction.
Families transferring overseas are
thus caught in a bureaucratic limbo,
with no assistance from either their
local school district or the department.
Placement assistance using SNEA was
previously provided to families transfer-
ring from a domestic assignment for
children who met certain criteria, but it
is no longer being authorized by MED/
■ Reaffirm previous State Department
policy that the intention of SNEA is to
provide support for services commensu-
rate with those legally guaranteed under
the IDEIA to children in Foreign Service
families who have special needs and are
stationed overseas, and clarify whether
the department considers the IDEIA
to have legal application for overseas
assignments or whether it is only used as
■ Create an appeals process whereby
an employee who disagrees with a MED/
MHS/CFP decision can request to have
that decision reviewed by a third party
(instead of filing a grievance).
The primary responsibility for making
sure that special needs children’s require-
ments are met will always begin and end
with parents. Department officials must
recognize that they should partner with
parents in a way that enables them to use
appropriate resources to determine what
is in the best interest of their child. If done
properly, all parties benefit.
Making it possible for a large portion
of existing and future Foreign Service
members with valuable skills to serve in a
wider range of assignments by facilitating
rather than hindering access to SNEA will
help ensure that the State Department
continues to retain and recruit a diverse
group of personnel representing the
entire U.S. population.