On August 8, 2019, the DOL's Wage and Hour Division released opinion letter FMLA2019-2-A. The requester asked whether a parent's attendance at a school's Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting to discuss a child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) was covered under FMLA as intermittent leave. The DOL agreed that it was indeed a qualifying reason for leave under FMLA. However, the opinion was based on very specific facts.
The party requesting the opinion letter had two children with serious health conditions. The employee had a certification from a health care provider indicating her need to take intermittent leave to care for the children and take them to medical appointments. The children received pediatrician-prescribed occupational, speech, and physical therapy provided by their school district. Four times annually, the school holds a CSE/IEP meeting to review the children's educational and medical needs, well-being, and progress. In attendance at those meetings are a speech pathologist, school psychologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, teachers and school administrators.
The opinion was based on the fact that FMLA provides for leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition and that includes making arrangements for change in care.
It's important to remember that opinion letters are based on specific facts presented by an inquiring party. This letter does not extend to all parent/teacher school meetings. In application, employers should review requests for leave related to CSE/IEP meetings with careful consideration. If the facts are similar to the ones in the opinion letter, the leave is likely covered under FMLA. This would include the child having a serious health condition, the employee having a certification from the child's health care provider, and certification of the meeting.