The Two Most Important Words This Fall For Children With IEPs:
The pandemic events of 2020 have the potential to end up setting back the movement for equality in education for children with disabilities.
With the opening of schools having already begun in a number of states in a stuttering, often incoherent fashion, with schools facing numerous hurdles to keeping all safe within their buildings, and with the refusal of thousands of parents to take the chance with their child's safety, the hybrid model of face-to-face instruction, in conjunction with distance learning, is taking greater hold in more and more schools.
For high maintenance students with a learning issue this has not been an easy transition.
A number of issues are emerging as time goes on and Covid-19 continues to impact educational communities.
IEP testing has been seriously delayed or canceled in many districts over the summer with closed schools making assessments very difficult.
Moreover, students already qualified for an IEP have also been negatively impacted in their quest to have annual reviews and the renewal of accommodations.
Some districts are attempting to use the absence of face-to-face teaching as an excuse to refuse legally-required IEP services.
Those teachers that provide special education services are not trained to effectively provide old-distance learning.
Students with challenges have not been taught effective strategies for learning using technology and have been disadvantaged these last months.
Too many children with challenges do not have the ability to sit still in front of a computer for the time that is needed to learn-lack of attention and impulsivity, and the lack of structure are difficult issues for them in attempting tele-learning.
Their unique needs can’t be met over a computer
At this time, students with IEPS are more likely in a stronger position to continue to receive services in a patchwork manner than those students that are seeking to qualify for an IEP.
For those with a previous IEP in hand, the two most important words for them are
The purpose of special education as contained within the law is to provide free appropriate public education (FAPE).
COVID19 has made this provision more difficult for reasons mentioned above-some legitimate; some not.
The Federal government has reaffirmed their commitment to IDEA ( Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) by restating in March, 2020 Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus 2019 Outbreak (OSEP 3/2020). that eligible students are entitled to FAPE.
While recognizing the difficulties Covid is causing for students, families, and schools, the basic message from Washington is that schools and districts must adapt.
Schools can, and must, provide education to all students, including children with disabilities.
The health and safety of children, students, educators, and service providers must be the first consideration;
The needs and best interests of the individual student, not any system, should guide decisions and expenditures;
Parents or recipients of services must be informed of, and involved in, decisions relating to the provision of services; and
Services typically provided in person may now need to be provided through alternative methods, requiring creative and innovative approaches.
The result is Compensatory Education that holds that Schools are responsible to ensure services that may be required to remedy the loss of skills/regression in a student as a result of extended school closures and disruptions to in-person instruction.
Schools must ensure that—to the greatest extent practicable—students with disabilities are provided the special education and related services identified on the IEP.
School districts must ensure that individualized determinations are made as to whether and to what extent a student may require compensatory education services as a result of the inability to provide services during COVID19-related disruptions.
Factors that may be be relevant when determining whether a student requires compensatory education services as a result of COVID19 related disruptions to the provision of FAPE include:
Rate of progress on IEP goals prior to closure/disruption;
Difference between IEP progress monitoring data immediately preceding closure/disruption and IEP progress monitoring data collected a reasonable time after the return to in-person instruction;
Difference between services identified on the IEP and services offered during closure/ disruption
Accessibility of services offered to the student during closure/disruption;
Changes in the general education curriculum and instruction for all students
Input and information from parents
It is important for parents to understand that schools are under tremendous strain in order to meet all the challenges surrounding Covid and the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
Special Education is an especially difficult issue, both in terms of execution of IDEA and in its consumption of resources.
The urge to cut corners will be strong, but it cannot be at the expense of your child.
We understand what your child’s rights are and what responsibilities schools have to meet.
Contact us at Confidentparentingcoaches.com. We will have your backs in ensuring your child gets the free, appropriate, public education to which he/she is entitled.