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Montana Early Assistance Program (EAP)
Office of Special Education
Office of Public Instruction
Contact: Mary Gallagher
The Legal Services and Special Education Divisions of the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) have instituted the Early Assistance Program (EAP). This program is designed to provide technical assistance to parents, school districts, and advocacy organizations in regard to the delivery of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities (10.16.3660, ARM). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents can file complaints if they feel a district is not following administrative rules. The intent of the EAP program is to intervene prior to or at the time of filing a complaint with OPI (10.16.3662)(4)(c). At this intervention point, required by 10.16.3660(4), the EAP will gather information pertinent to the situation from parents, schools, and others who are involved with the issue and attempt to resolve the problem within 15 school days. With permission from the parents, EAP may exceed 15 days. Our philosophy is to resolve issues amicably and thereby prevent costly legal entanglements wherever possible. We feel that, given the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand in a less formidable and confrontational venue, both parents and schools can reach agreement without undermining the relationships necessary to ensure the smooth delivery of special education services to children and youth with disabilities.