Special Education Rights and the Coronavirus

Let me start by stating the obvious. We are in uncharted waters. Everyone, parents, school personnel and others are trying to navigate this situation. As a parent attorney I have been staying up to date in what is a very fluid situation. I have outlined some of the changes to the law and guidance as the information becomes available.

Disclaimers: At this point the situation is still evolving. I expect additional information from the ISBE and the Federal Government. I will keep you updated as things develop.

This newsletter is not intended to, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is for information purposes only.

Click here to read about ISBE Guidelines

Remote learning for special education students. What should schools consider when assessing how remote learning will be provided to special education students?

  • Individualized to meet the unique needs of the student.
  • Reasonable in light of the current circumstances.
  • Appropriate based on the student’s unique needs and learning style
  • Focused on readiness for the next grade level
  • Accessible to the student and family.
  • Holistic in terms of each family’s unique circumstances.
  • Commensurate with what is provided to students without disabilities.

Flexibility and practical realities will dictate each student’s plan. The review of the IEP and the creation of a remote learning plan must be done on a case by case basis.

Will related services be provided?

The ISBE Remote Learning Recommendations does not answer this question directly. It states that “IEP’s remain in place and should direct student’s remote learning.  ISBE recommends collaboration with other staff members as opposed to the provision of direct related services. The decision about providing related services will be made by each school district.

Will the remote learning plan address all the student’s goals?

The answer is likely no. School will likely target a few goals to work on during the remote learning period based on the considerations listed above.

The IEP team will determine what goals can be addressed during the period of remote learning. This will be done via a telephone conference with the parent or video conferencing when possible.

Timelines for evaluations and IEP annual reviews are not waived. These meetings will happen via telephone, zoom or another platform.

Are IEP and evaluation timelines still in effect?

Yes. Except ‘school-day timelines (like the 60-school -day-evaluation timeframe) were tolled from March16-30. That said, ISBE has indicated that calendar day timelines remain in full force and effect. Schools and parents should track the timelines.

Essential meetings (annual reviews, evaluation meetings) related to Section 504 and IEP’s should be held, even if they are held using telephone or video conferencing. There is no requirement that the meetings be held in person. Parents should participate in these meetings. Parents must consent to hold the meeting electronically.

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About Micki Moran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship, and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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