We are living in unprecedented times with nationwide and worldwide closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is some guidance from the U.S. Department of Education about how students, specifically students with disabilities, education should be addressed.
In a nutshell, if students without disabilities are receiving education services, then students with disabilities should receive education services. However, most school districts are trying to determine how to implement distance learning for all students. Please see the attached guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
Once this settles and things get back to "normal", IEP and 504 teams will need to discuss educational harm/impact regarding the lack of special education and related services there were not provided during the school closures. It is critical that data is collected from parents and caregivers to further the discussion regarding the need for compensatory education services. Here are a few tips to consider:
This information will be useful when discussing the development and/or revisions to your student's IFSP, IEP, or 504 plan to address their needs.
WHAT IS SPECIAL EDUCATION?
IDEA 34 C.F.R. §300.39 defines special education as specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
Special education is a service, not a place, with the overarching goal of preparing the student for further education, employment, and independent living (IDEA 34 C.F.R. §300.1).
HOW IS ELIGIBILITY DETERMINED?
A student can be referred for an evaluation to determine special education eligibility by a parent, teacher, or school personnel. The request must be done in writing and consent must be given to begin the evaluation process. Students must be assessed in ALL areas of suspected disability. The evaluation process has a timeline of 60 days. At the conclusion of 60 days, an IEP team meeting will be held to review the assessment data to determine the student's eligibility for special education services and the need for specially designed instruction. If a student is found eligible, the school system has an additional 30 days to develop an IEP. If the student is not found eligible for special education services, the student may be eligible for a 504 plan, which will provide accommodations for the student to access the general education curriculum.
WHAT IS AN INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) ?
IDEA 34 C.F.R. §300.22 defines an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as a written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised.
More specifically, the IEP documents a student's present level of academic and functional performance, which should clearly list the student's strengths and needs; IEP goals and objectives that address the student's needs; supplementary aids and services; related services; the amount of specially designed instruction; and the environment where the education services will take place, known as the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
Parents should receive quarterly IEP progress reports on IEP goals and objectives around the same time the student receives a report card. Parents can request an IEP meeting at any time, but should have at least one IEP meeting annually to review the student's progress.
Kennedy Krieger Project HEAL sample letters can be accessed here.
Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools [that] receive Federal financial assistance. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment. Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (U.S. Department of Education, n.d.).
504 plan sample accommodation list:
Sample American Diabetes Association 504 Plan here.
Sample Epilepsy Foundation 504 Plan here.
Prince George's County ARC
Infant & Toddler Program
Adult Transition Resources
Lauren's Hope (Fashionable Medical Bracelets and Charms)