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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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JUNE 2016

19

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/

MHS/CFP.

■ 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

a guideline.

■ 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).

Win-Win

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.

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