Jan 28, 2021
Episode 74: Special Education Law During Covid With Guest Catherine Michael
In this episode, we discuss special education law during COVID. Guest Catherine Michael, a special education lawyer, discusses that IEPs and services should not look different during COVID and that all services still need to be provided, although they may be offered in a slightly different format. Cases that have been coming up in 2020 relate to the child not being able to use distance learning due to cognitive impairments or not being able to use a mask due to health or cognitive issues.
For those children, schools are looking into therapeutic day placements or ABA facilities. For children who are missing a lot of school, they are also trying to use google hangouts or zoom meetings. To pay for other placements, schools can use their high cost funds, which is used for alternative placements. Some alternative placements are hiring more staff to accommodate these children and may even be offering a discounted rate. Some schools are having children work with behavior techs to assist with the online schooling.
If the children are not able to access online education and the schools refuse an alternate placement, the schools have to figure out a way to provide education. The IEP should still be fully implemented. If it is not, you can file a complaint with your state, a due process complaint. All therapies and services should still occur at the stated frequency in the IEP. Some school districts have started hiring people to come to the child’s home to provide the needed services. If the child has not been receiving the related services, the child may be owed compensatory education. Parents need to document what the child is not receiving and also any regressions. If a parent feels that the child is not being provided with the education he/she is required during COVID, a parent can write a letter to the school, do mediation, or file for due process.
The parent still has the right to have an evaluation for their child. If the parent doesn’t think the evaluation was comprehensive, the parent can request an independent evaluation. However, schools may ask to perform another evaluation on their own first.
She noted that although schools could always use more money, the problem is more poor allocation of money to the needed resources. She recommends that schools look at good charter schools as a model of ways to properly use resources.
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