Credit: Andrew Reed / EdSource
A special education teacher walks down a hallway with her student in a Northern California school.

United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is weighing whether to recommend that Congress provide waivers to schools and states on some requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

I urge her to recommend necessary and temporary flexibility during this unprecedented public health crisis.

At issue is whether targeted and specific requirements and procedures should be relaxed. They should be. Specific and temporary flexibility should last until schools reopen for all students. Examples of such flexibility may include easing timelines for meetings, services, etc; easing meeting attendance and other meeting requirements; allowing different service delivery approaches and halting due process claims, including those that arise during the current crisis.

In normal times, many regulations are burdensome to schools, with compliance issues often leading to litigation and the fear of litigation.

Now is not normal. Schools are struggling to provide even minimal education for all students. They need freedom to function as best they can. As long as general education students receive no instruction, or a stripped-down version of what was, students with disabilities should as well.

Without flexibility, schools are placed in an impossible situation that hampers their ability to manage and educate all students — including students with disabilities — during this crisis.

The IDEA Act — now 45 years old — provides students with disabilities (14 percent of our nation’s students) with an individual entitlement to a free appropriate public education to access and learn what the law calls “the general curriculum.” They are entitled to specialized instruction and individualized services, among other rights that their parents can enforce through the law. The general curriculum is supposed to help all students gain academic, social, behavioral and emotional knowledge and skills. Most (80 to 90 percent) students with disabilities have mild or moderate needs and are mostly educated in general education classrooms.

Special education is the only entitlement in our public schools. It’s a government program that provides eligible students with disabilities and their parents with rights and other benefits — no matter the circumstances. It’s a big deal.

Today, we are in a national crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic. The educational circumstances for more than 50 million public school students nationwide are upside down. Many schools are closed with no learning or far less learning going on, approaches that themselves raise equity challenges. During this crisis, we know that many students will lose skills, regress academically and may develop other challenges, as well. Schools are in a most complicated and challenging legal situation.

So, what about the claim that students with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education — even amid a pandemic? While the Department of Education has urged “flexibility,” it has no power to enforce that. Congress does.

With congressional “flexibility,” schools will be able to work without rigid rules, deadlines, meetings, assessments and other requirements and, hopefully, without the ever-present fear of litigation. Also necessary is the need to halt claims that schools are not implementing the legal rights of students with disabilities during school closures.

What about the most vulnerable students with disabilities, students who are among the 10 to 20 percent who have severe or profound needs? Professionals close to the scene will need to respond: If students are in danger or in unhealthy settings, it’s time to mandate that other government agencies step up. This crisis calls for creativity and solutions to meet on-the-ground needs — not enforce rights written in another era.

We already hear claims that special education students should receive timely meetings, procedures, etc. and, when the crisis ends, compensatory services to counter their expected regression — ignoring the fact that all students will, undoubtedly, regress. Remember, because of the entitlement, special education students have the right to expect that their access to a full range of public educational services will continue; others don’t.

Such claims highlight the need for congressionally mandated flexibility as an appropriate response for as long as the general curriculum remains upended. The argument that legally required services are to be provided no matter what other students get goes far beyond what the IDEA Act envisioned. The law was built on fairness and equity for all — not their absence. Consider how trying to proceed with mostly business as usual for students with disabilities will go over with general education parents whose kids are sitting at home.

Congressionally authorized flexibility is necessary to bridge this difficult time. When schools reopen, we’ll have plenty of time to rethink next steps. Extreme circumstances require an extreme response. Such flexibility is a good first step.

•••

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, a former teacher, is a lawyer and author of “Special Education 2.0 — Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law,” (School Law Pro, 2017).

The opinions in this commentary are those of the author. Commentaries published on EdSource represent viewpoints from EdSource’s broad audience. As an independent, non-partisan organization, EdSource does not take a position on legislation or policy. We welcome guest commentaries representing diverse perspectives. If you would like to submit a commentary, please review our commentary guidelines and contact us.

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  1. Chris Harris 2 years ago2 years ago

    Yes, all children may refer to some extent; however, the general student population will recover quickly from any regression, whereas the population targeted by this article may take months or years to recover from the schedule breakdown. Most kids regress over every summer, and then recover with the first few weeks of school review. Special education students of every diagnosis need the academic and life schedule consistency to maintain basic functionality, any regression can be … Read More

    Yes, all children may refer to some extent; however, the general student population will recover quickly from any regression, whereas the population targeted by this article may take months or years to recover from the schedule breakdown. Most kids regress over every summer, and then recover with the first few weeks of school review. Special education students of every diagnosis need the academic and life schedule consistency to maintain basic functionality, any regression can be detrimental to the student for a much longer period.

    Solve the education problem for Neurotypical General Education children. Teachers are largely being paid during this time, and should figure out how to instruct moving forward; it should not be the basis for changing this law.

  2. Will 2 years ago2 years ago

    Severely handicapped student are not receiving a free appropriate public education during this pandemic. Miriam Kurtzig Freedman should know that once you get Congress to temporarily halt IDEA, it will never come back, especially under the current administration.

  3. Jessica Lizardi 2 years ago2 years ago

    This article is seeped in entitled privilege. Shame on you.

  4. Courtney 2 years ago2 years ago

    Since when is a civil rights law an entitlement? Imagine if instead of writing “student with disabilities” this article said “students of color.” Somehow it’s ok when it’s our nations biggest and most vulnerable minority. I urge parents, teachers, and other true advocates of our nations 7 million students with disabilities to write and call your Congressman now. Urge them not to waive these children’s civil rights under IDEA. The law already provides the flexibility … Read More

    Since when is a civil rights law an entitlement? Imagine if instead of writing “student with disabilities” this article said “students of color.” Somehow it’s ok when it’s our nations biggest and most vulnerable minority. I urge parents, teachers, and other true advocates of our nations 7 million students with disabilities to write and call your Congressman now. Urge them not to waive these children’s civil rights under IDEA. The law already provides the flexibility to extend timelines for IEP meetings and evaluations. Any extensions or change of service should be decided on an individualized basis, not a blanketed decision for all of these students. Let’s not accept the bigotry of low expectations that this author espouses. We can and should do better! We should follow the law!

  5. David Warner 2 years ago2 years ago

    This is such an insensitive commentary.

  6. Kim 2 years ago2 years ago

    I agree that things could be somewhat relaxed for our current situation; however, the pandemic did not break our special needs system. Politicians did. The bottom line did. This system was beyond broken decades ago and gets worse all the time. Parents are handed pamphlets that they don't understand and they agree to everything at an IEP if they trust their school's professionals. Now they won't give kids IEPs citing scores and standards. It isn't … Read More

    I agree that things could be somewhat relaxed for our current situation; however, the pandemic did not break our special needs system. Politicians did. The bottom line did. This system was beyond broken decades ago and gets worse all the time. Parents are handed pamphlets that they don’t understand and they agree to everything at an IEP if they trust their school’s professionals. Now they won’t give kids IEPs citing scores and standards. It isn’t the scores! They don’t want to be held accountable when they violate IDEA or FAPE when they don’t comply with IEPs. Then the parents educated on this subject can’t do anything at all even though their child is 3 grade levels below in reading. Put more special ed teachers in jobs instead of expecting one to do the job of three.

    Quit slashing the education budget, and for the love of all that’s good in the world, quit putting unqualified morons in charge!

  7. Marion J King 2 years ago2 years ago

    Miriam K. Freedman: How dare you! "Consider how trying to proceed with mostly business as usual for students with disabilities will go over with general education parents whose kids are sitting at home." Pitting one group of parents against another is the oldest establishment trick in the book and I will not allow it to be ignored. You should be ashamed! Parents are on to you and we don't appreciate … Read More

    Miriam K. Freedman: How dare you! “Consider how trying to proceed with mostly business as usual for students with disabilities will go over with general education parents whose kids are sitting at home.” Pitting one group of parents against another is the oldest establishment trick in the book and I will not allow it to be ignored. You should be ashamed! Parents are on to you and we don’t appreciate being treated like fools.

    Is “some” flexibility required? Of course! If a medical director wrote a commentary proposing to “codify into law” the suspension of the civil rights of people of color because it’s taxing on the hospitals to fulfill the mandates of the law during this pandemic, would anyone ever publish such a piece????

  8. Rachel 2 years ago2 years ago

    Wow, I hope this not the perspective of my educators! This article seemed super decisive, from my subjective standpoint. She chooses repeatedly to use entitlements instead of rights, synonyms that evoke very different emotions. Funny that she says “Special education is the only entitlement in our public schools.” No “entitlements” protecting our children whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen, children of different ethnic backgrounds and religions, race, or sex? We all … Read More

    Wow, I hope this not the perspective of my educators! This article seemed super decisive, from my subjective standpoint. She chooses repeatedly to use entitlements instead of rights, synonyms that evoke very different emotions. Funny that she says “Special education is the only entitlement in our public schools.” No “entitlements” protecting our children whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen, children of different ethnic backgrounds and religions, race, or sex? We all have rights that should be protected.

    As a special education parent, I know that we are being flexible, we have made concessions to services that are not feasible during this time, I know a lot of other special need families are too. As IEP teams we need to collectively decide what is appropriate, as in FAPE, for this time on an individual basis. If we cannot agree, then that is exactly what litigation is for!

    Please don’t lower your expectations, and don’t ask me to lower mine. Not all of our typical peers will regress or should our non-typical peers. The stakes are too high for our children’s future to make blanketing waivers. I will say that our district, who I have not always and in all things viewed favorably, has done a remarkable job providing us services. The difference now is that I’m the provider.

    I think you underestimate special needs parents to assume they are unreasonable or not up to the task. I know that our educators have been putting in overtime, and I thank you all! However, we do need to continue to have timely evaluation and meetings. Time waits for no one, especially this valuable population. This is an hour of great need for all of our students, I hope our educators and parents both rise to the occasion and work together. We are all in this together!

  9. Patrick 2 years ago2 years ago

    Timelines should be paused. Parents and advocates need to understand how difficult it is to have a triennial IEP meeting which requires changes to goals, services, supports that are based on current data and assessments. Since that data does not exist due to the closure, what are teachers, psychs, and others supposed to do regarding making those recommendations on goals/services and eligibility?

    Comes down to parents want IEPs regardless of the data.

  10. Lynn 2 years ago2 years ago

    As a special education teacher in California, I love my students and go the extra mile. But I am working 10-12 hour days right now. There has to be room for reasonable expectations.

  11. Peg 2 years ago2 years ago

    Thank you for the information. As a special education teacher and a parent of a student identified with special needs, I find trying to balance all of the demands very, extremely overwhelming. My own child is not able to do work as I am too busy getting my own work done. Work that keeps changing the expectations as information becomes available. Something has to give. I feel as though I … Read More

    Thank you for the information. As a special education teacher and a parent of a student identified with special needs, I find trying to balance all of the demands very, extremely overwhelming. My own child is not able to do work as I am too busy getting my own work done. Work that keeps changing the expectations as information becomes available. Something has to give. I feel as though I am expected to work 24/7 to ensure my students are getting what they need.

    Replies

    • Marion J King 2 years ago2 years ago

      Peg, I feel for you! Being a parent of a student with special needs is a 24/7 job. Being a work-from-home special education teacher is more than a full time job. Doing both sounds impossible. I hope your school district is working to get you the support you need and I hope your child’s teachers are as dedicated as you!

  12. Rhonda Faulkner 2 years ago2 years ago

    You obviously are not a parent of a special education child or you would understand the laws in IDEA protect these children from discrimination. These students are the most likely to regress and need educational supplementation and you are suggesting they be left behind by gutting the law.

  13. Michael Braun 2 years ago2 years ago

    It is apparent that Ms. Freedman and a few of the commentators have been waiting and waiting for this opportunity. They cannot help themselves. They view the parents as whiny, not nearly as smart as they are, and unable to view their children objectively. These “rights written in another era” (most recently eons ago in 2004) are cumbersome and inconvenient to them.

  14. Educator- 25 years 2 years ago2 years ago

    This is a difficult time and we all need to give and receive grace. All students are not receiving what they need at this time. All of our students are vulnerable. I agree, we need to do our best for all students. Our district is trying to provide as much support and services per the IEP and 504 as we can at this time, but it will not be the same as … Read More

    This is a difficult time and we all need to give and receive grace. All students are not receiving what they need at this time. All of our students are vulnerable. I agree, we need to do our best for all students. Our district is trying to provide as much support and services per the IEP and 504 as we can at this time, but it will not be the same as being with a therapist, service provider or teacher in a live setting. We have speech providers who are qualified to provide services, but can’t virtually due to laws and licensing restrictions.

    District budgets will be decimated in this and the coming years and to expect districts to take on additional due process claims and expenses will simply bankrupt districts when we all know they can’t fulfill an IEP or 504 that was created with a classroom-based live model in a virtual reality. Parents have the right to deny any change in the IEP (stay put) so they don’t have to agree to changes proposed to fit the virtual model. Districts are in a no-win situation at this time. We need to do our best and provide as much support as possible, but districts should not be penalized later with legal fees and compensatory education fees, because we could not do the impossible.

  15. Laurie Kubasek 2 years ago2 years ago

    Has the author become too desensitized to plight of students and parents? It sounds like it from her opinion. You sound like a person who espouses a one size fits all mentality. Connect with your local
    special needs parents, and it may change your opinion. That is, if you can stop thinking of special needs children as dollar signs for a minute.

  16. Ashley Menwer 2 years ago2 years ago

    What you are proposing if absurd, and completely negligent to those children with learning differences. As such, these children were born with conditions that they did not have control over, not to mention the prevalence of bullying that occurs unchecked. Shame on anyone who would support such a monstrosity, especially those educators who stand in the frontlines to hype their efforts up about how they "care and they do what they do because they want to … Read More

    What you are proposing if absurd, and completely negligent to those children with learning differences. As such, these children were born with conditions that they did not have control over, not to mention the prevalence of bullying that occurs unchecked.

    Shame on anyone who would support such a monstrosity, especially those educators who stand in the frontlines to hype their efforts up about how they “care and they do what they do because they want to make a difference.”

    Civil rights are protected under the constitution, and as a reminder, children do have protection under such, aside from the IDEA.

  17. Hope Hardy 2 years ago2 years ago

    Clearly, this writer does not have a child with disabilities. I am a teacher and also a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, hypoplasia of the corpus collosum, and dystonia among other things. Typical students are able to maintain what they have learned through distance education. My son cannot. How is this fair? To call special services "entitlement" is an outrage. All we ask is that our kids get what they need, and … Read More

    Clearly, this writer does not have a child with disabilities. I am a teacher and also a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, hypoplasia of the corpus collosum, and dystonia among other things. Typical students are able to maintain what they have learned through distance education. My son cannot. How is this fair?

    To call special services “entitlement” is an outrage. All we ask is that our kids get what they need, and if schools had been doing what they should have been doing, we wouldn’t have all these laws. What will happen is if these laws are relaxed, they will not go back to the way they were. You have no idea how difficult life is for my son, just to do normal everyday things. School should be the one place where he can be close to normal.

  18. BA 2 years ago2 years ago

    Yes please. We love our kids but common sense must prevail. How can we get this message out loud and clear to the masses?

  19. Katherine Perez 2 years ago2 years ago

    Absolutely! I agree 100%. I am a school psychologist for the NYCDOE. My colleagues and I have been burdened by the “need” to hold IEP meetings for students with disabilities to stay in compliance with the law for fear of losing funding. It’s absolutely ridiculous! It’s hard enough to hold these meetings when schools are open but now with no access to the students for testing, limited access to students records and the current environment, … Read More

    Absolutely! I agree 100%. I am a school psychologist for the NYCDOE. My colleagues and I have been burdened by the “need” to hold IEP meetings for students with disabilities to stay in compliance with the law for fear of losing funding. It’s absolutely ridiculous! It’s hard enough to hold these meetings when schools are open but now with no access to the students for testing, limited access to students records and the current environment, none of the IEPs we write will accurately identify or address the needs of the students.

    We are in a time of crisis; therefore an appropriate approach should be taken to meet the needs of the students. This is a time to think outside the box and support children and families at home during this pandemic. Instead of requiring psychologist to hold bogus meetings, psychologists should be asked to assist with at risk counseling, provide consultation and support to teachers and parents, help create behavior support plans for children who are severely disabled or have ASD.

    There is so much more we can do but instead they have us glued to computers, rushing to schedule meetings to write IEPs that won’t even be implemented until the following school year. I suggest all IEP dates be extended for another year and when this is over we re-examine the needs of the students with complete data and make informed recommendations. Right now is not the time to worry about funding. The Federal government should be providing schools with whatever they need to get through this. We should be focusing on the health and safety of the children with a particular focus on their social emotional health.

  20. Kim Potter 2 years ago2 years ago

    Thank you for a well articulated article regarding special education amid our current crisis. I hope Congress will strongly consider what has been spoken here.

    Replies

    • Vanessa T 2 years ago2 years ago

      Yes! The most sensible article I’ve seen in a while regarding special education and the pandemic. Sensible!

  21. Julie 2 years ago2 years ago

    It is impossible for us special education employees to do what parents are demanding presently. With 35-55 students per caseload for related service providers (Some have 75 students per provider in absurd districts where we aren't even listened to as a result of mandates that aren't funded.). We work with the most severe students because it's our heart's passion not because it is easy; of those 45 or so beloved children on our caseloads, some … Read More

    It is impossible for us special education employees to do what parents are demanding presently. With 35-55 students per caseload for related service providers (Some have 75 students per provider in absurd districts where we aren’t even listened to as a result of mandates that aren’t funded.).

    We work with the most severe students because it’s our heart’s passion not because it is easy; of those 45 or so beloved children on our caseloads, some get services twice per week individually plus consult. Many were grouped but cannot be grouped for virtual sessions/distance learning. I personally had a death in the family last week that I was dealing with while getting politely written but heavily demanding emails from parents wanting more from me. Parents are oblivious to the reality of what special education employees are going through. I know providers who have special needs children themselves, many who have multiple children and SOs who work in hospitals right now. I am working 8 hour days from home, rearranging my home permanently and on a daily basis to try to make this work. I am fortunate that we afforded more than the studio but I don’t live alone; my apartment is tiny. We have no properly functioning inside doors so confidentiality and just having it quiet enough to not hear each other (from different rooms with headphones on) is tricky.

    Personal factors impact our ability to carry out our jobs at this time. Please understand that we want to, we love our students. I miss my kids desperately and hate being stuck in virtual staff meetings and just recording to send asynchronous stuff since it’s the most time-effective to reach the most kids.

    Some students don’t have adequate ways to access teleservices, and many parents are underling to help facilitate sessions; they want us to magically be able to support their special needs child through a device where we have far less control over environment, materials, view of what’s happening, and proper physical interaction and promoting.

    But not everyone can record to send asynchronous stuff, many cannot do much at all right now based on their situations. I personally have a lot of anxiety about starting live sessions. I have students with severe needs, but their families are just focused on food and surviving, they have the most severe needs, but ultimately I have to spend more time coaxing demanding parents than actually getting to help children right now.

    I hate that there are parents demanding/forcing us to try what we are saying we cannot as humans in our current circumstances do. I love what I do but am about ready to quit if it’s forced and I just can’t. There are many related service providers on the brink right now and parents are oblivious, just shouting how terrible things are for then right now.

    We know. Everyone is getting in a life boat, not the same boat but we all want to float. I’m turning my video off during meetings with adults and throwing up off screen in meetings because of my IBS taking an extreme turn for the worse during quarantine. I exercise and eat well, except that there are days where I can’t eat right now and yet life goes on. I can fake my okay-ness during a staff meeting where I’m one of a handful of adults discussing, but I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m throwing up and getting dizzy trying to talk to my students.

    The simple fact is that special education employees, related service providers are stretched too thin under mandates (even during normal times) and without adequate funding to the point that there is literally no way to actually see all of our kids anywhere as what we wish we could under these current circumstances. Instead of demanding an impossibility that will force many passionate providers to quit, rather than focus on academics and demand more, be gracious! Ask about general strategies or activities that can be redone over and over, be patient, take an active part in your child’s education and please recognize that we are all doing the best we can.

  22. Howard Wiley 2 years ago2 years ago

    This is the most uniformed article I have ever read. Do you have any IDEA why IDEA, FAPE, FERPA & 504 were developed? If they relax them, they won't restore them under this administration. The only kids that will suffer are the kids that need the most help. School districts have still be screwing these kids since these laws were passed. Parents don't know the laws and school districts sure won't educate them. Districts … Read More

    This is the most uniformed article I have ever read. Do you have any IDEA why IDEA, FAPE, FERPA & 504 were developed? If they relax them, they won’t restore them under this administration. The only kids that will suffer are the kids that need the most help.

    School districts have still be screwing these kids since these laws were passed. Parents don’t know the laws and school districts sure won’t educate them. Districts lose hearing after hearing. Why? They know it’s cheaper because so few parents know their kids rights.

    Plus, states can have stronger rules and federal government action might be meaningless. Parents should immediately contact the Educational Law Center and take all these districts to hearing immediately. Don’t let the current office holder and his lack of education minion (DeVos) take your kids’ rights away. I figure this is coming from superintendents lobbying Trump, since I’m not sure DeVos has an independent thought.

    Parents! Take action now! People that support this utter nonsense will try to take what little rights your kids have in getting a real education

  23. Cindy Robinson 2 years ago2 years ago

    I have been a special education teacher since the year 2000. Thank you very much for your commentary. We are doing our best to go completely online. However, some of my students don't even have Wi-Fi. Some of my students have Wi-Fi, but no phone and no computer. Their phone might be broken or the service is cut off. Most of my students only have a phone. It is difficult for them to do their … Read More

    I have been a special education teacher since the year 2000. Thank you very much for your commentary. We are doing our best to go completely online. However, some of my students don’t even have Wi-Fi. Some of my students have Wi-Fi, but no phone and no computer. Their phone might be broken or the service is cut off. Most of my students only have a phone.

    It is difficult for them to do their assignment on the phone. Have you ever tried to type an essay with your phone? They are missing the back-and-forth guidance that I give them. When they try to do an essay, my email gets full many, many questions. We of course I’m moving forward and doing the best we can. All of us teachers have websites that allow the students to see their task for the day. We have no reason not to make sure all those IEPs are done on time. It is difficult to get the parent into a conference call. Some of the grandparents who are raising the children still have flip phones. I really miss my students.

  24. Terra Albala 2 years ago2 years ago

    Sigh.

    Only someone who has no idea what our kids are going would have such a viewpoint.

    Although I am used to people ‘not getting it,’ your article is pushing a very privileged narrative.

    Replies

    • Taisha 2 years ago2 years ago

      I completely agree.

  25. Donna King 2 years ago2 years ago

    My child has learning disabilities in Reading, Math and Science. The original curriculum is Algebra 1, 2, Geometry with Trigonometry and finally Physics. My child has a Reading Comprehension of 3rd grade level because schools continue passing her to the next grade level. She wasn't prepare for it. She also has seizures that caused her missed a lot of school. The teacher didn't follow her IEP. Now my child has given up. She … Read More

    My child has learning disabilities in Reading, Math and Science. The original curriculum is Algebra 1, 2, Geometry with Trigonometry and finally Physics. My child has a Reading Comprehension of 3rd grade level because schools continue passing her to the next grade level. She wasn’t prepare for it. She also has seizures that caused her missed a lot of school. The teacher didn’t follow her IEP. Now my child has given up. She is 16 yrs in 10 th grade failing just like 9th grade fail. I need help. Thank you

    Replies

    • Marion J King 2 years ago2 years ago

      Donna, what state are you in? Do you know about http://www.wrightslaw.com? Yellowpagesforkids.com is also an excellent resource. The US Supreme Court ruling in Endrew is likely applicable to you and your child. For support, please join SPEDWatch, Inc. on Facebook.

  26. Margaret 2 years ago2 years ago

    I have been a Special Education teacher for over 25 years. No teacher wants to see any student miss out, but in these circumstances there is no way to provide all specialized instruction and related services as stated in their IEP. Teachers, administrators and support staff are doing their absolute best. There should be a temporary lifting of requirements, no compensatory services granted and no due process claims even considered during this pandemic. When schools … Read More

    I have been a Special Education teacher for over 25 years. No teacher wants to see any student miss out, but in these circumstances there is no way to provide all specialized instruction and related services as stated in their IEP. Teachers, administrators and support staff are doing their absolute best. There should be a temporary lifting of requirements, no compensatory services granted and no due process claims even considered during this pandemic. When schools are open, then all things can resume as normal for all students. Fair and equitable for all!

  27. Beverly 2 years ago2 years ago

    Written by someone who clearly doesn’t have a child with disabilities . So can we relax our taxes that go to support our children or better yet get private companies to provide the service then send the bill to the states and local governments? You want to establish that legal fight; as a parent of a child that has disabilities, he did not ask for nor did I, but affects his ability to learn: Trust me, I am up for it.,

  28. Todd West 2 years ago2 years ago

    You are so ill advised. Schools are already not doing what they are supposed to. This is like giving them the knife to finish the job off.

  29. Traci 2 years ago2 years ago

    This type of opinion is escarole why their are disputes amongst parents & educators. Kind of like blaming the students with disabilities for making it tough for educators to do their job. Well keepsake if the SEAs provided the additional guidance to LEAs on IDEA as they are required to do thru their own admin rules, it wouldn't be so taxing on the poor teachers. Regarding referencing spec ed as an entitlement: I can guarantee … Read More

    This type of opinion is escarole why their are disputes amongst parents & educators. Kind of like blaming the students with disabilities for making it tough for educators to do their job. Well keepsake if the SEAs provided the additional guidance to LEAs on IDEA as they are required to do thru their own admin rules, it wouldn’t be so taxing on the poor teachers.

    Regarding referencing spec ed as an entitlement: I can guarantee my daughter with Down syndrome would give that up in a heartbeat because that “entitlement” has led to low expectations which has led to weak efforts in quality instruction and supports leading to her falling further behind grade level. I never thought as civil rights as an entitlement.

  30. Anne 2 years ago2 years ago

    Completely offensive and the equivalent to bailing out big banks during the economic crisis

  31. CJ Jones 2 years ago2 years ago

    Are you kidding me? False fact: Re - rights & benefits for "eligible" "No matter the circumstances"? Before COVID, it took 7 yrs (son 13 now) to figure out with district, school, teachers what this means. It's been a nightmare & after 7 hour IEP with our advocate, we were validated how horrifically son/we were treated & our son has had no basic education (but lots of bullying) which was promised & now tightened via … Read More

    Are you kidding me? False fact: Re – rights & benefits for “eligible” “No matter the circumstances”? Before COVID, it took 7 yrs (son 13 now) to figure out with district, school, teachers what this means. It’s been a nightmare & after 7 hour IEP with our advocate, we were validated how horrifically son/we were treated & our son has had no basic education (but lots of bullying) which was promised & now tightened via new IEP, would now happen.

    Six weeks later, COVID. Do not skirt legal responsibility because the education system cannot manage & execute promises unless under perfect circumstances. No wonder non-IEP children cannot handle anything but cookie cutter, assembly-line learning; their leaders & role models are wimps, unprofessional.

    Trying to stop lawsuits because system cannot fulfill legal obligations seems about right from our experience. Why promise anything you cannot deliver & sign names on it? Some call it non-disclosure of huge educational inadequacies. I call it lying to those children & parents the most in need of fair & safe education. My son does worksheets we check. He has no online instruction, there’s no “FAQs”, we do not know our role as parents. To us, it’s a typical day in SVUSD! Shame on you.

    Replies

    • Pat 2 years ago2 years ago

      It’s the schools’ fault a pandemic caused the schools in the world to close? It’s the schools fault IEPs are written for direct instruction and since direct instruction is not possible at this time, it’s their fault? I bet your child isn’t being ‘bullied.’

      Parents and advocates always looking to blame rather than accept. Typical.

  32. Maria 2 years ago2 years ago

    Only if you could be in our shoes. Our children are falling further behind, no services, no support, but tons of emails with assignments to complete. My child is nonverbal, I spent my day trying to manage his behaviors. I have no idea how to help him. The solution to our children suffering is modify IDEA?

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    • Tee 2 years ago2 years ago

      Maria, I do sympathize with you and other parents of students with different needs. I must add that I am a certified special educator and surely if your school district is not making creative provisions for you to interact even virtually with your students, teachers and/or support staff such as speech therapist, occupational therapist, assistive technology specialist and so forth, then definitely there is some violation of your child's educational rights at hand. However if … Read More

      Maria,
      I do sympathize with you and other parents of students with different needs. I must add that I am a certified special educator and surely if your school district is not making creative provisions for you to interact even virtually with your students, teachers and/or support staff such as speech therapist, occupational therapist, assistive technology specialist and so forth, then definitely there is some violation of your child’s educational rights at hand.

      However if there happen provisions in place that allows for some virtual interaction, then a great degree of flexibility will likely be needed. For parents you can only do as much as you can considering the circumstances, the frustrations of trying to meet the needs of students with disabilities are enormous enough without the pressures and existence of isolation due to the pandemic. I must add that while the expectations for both schools teachers and parents are a collaborative effort, please remember that teachers are parents as well and that the collaboration that are created during this pandemic will help shape the collaborative and cohesive partnerships that we all have together once this is over.

      One thing that you can do that we can all do is connect and contact our state representatives in Congress to allow for the temporary modification of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to modify the services that cannot be perform based on a face-to-face interaction and to have Congress pass a temporary law to support financially parents and educators and support services institutions that still don’t have the technological means to provide even virtual services.

  33. JH 2 years ago2 years ago

    I disagree, my husband and I are both in medicine and are readjusting our medical practices, our lives, our homes in order to continue to provide medical care for our patients. We are not shuttering hospitals or our practices to patients with COVID-19 to protect the lives of ourselves and our families. We aren't asking to have our special education teachers put their lives on the line by going to school and caring for our kids … Read More

    I disagree, my husband and I are both in medicine and are readjusting our medical practices, our lives, our homes in order to continue to provide medical care for our patients. We are not shuttering hospitals or our practices to patients with COVID-19 to protect the lives of ourselves and our families. We aren’t asking to have our special education teachers put their lives on the line by going to school and caring for our kids that may be carriers from contamination from their parents.

    We are asking that they think outside the box within the bounds of current law. We in medicine are doing this, and creating solutions in these unprecedented circumstances; I know our educators can do the same. This pandemic is difficult for all of us, from families with now financial and food insecurity to janitors at our hospitals who are at significant risk yet getting paid minimum wage. We all must step up to the plate and stretch our thought processes to come up with solutions in these difficult times! The IDEA laws are in place to protect and serve the highest risk student populations, just as hospitals/medical personnel are in place to do the same.

    Unfortunately, the course of this pandemic remains unclear, how long it will last, will it re-occur and how many will perish. As such, we need stability, to rely on current law.

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    • Layla 2 years ago2 years ago

      So we should continue to write new IEPs based on data we had before schools were closed over six weeks ago? We should be forced to hold eligibility when the psychologist can't do the psychoanalysis for students? Many special needs students are immunocompromised and I for one don't want to put any of my students' lives in danger by taking germs from one student/family to the next. Much of what we do is hands-on. It … Read More

      So we should continue to write new IEPs based on data we had before schools were closed over six weeks ago? We should be forced to hold eligibility when the psychologist can’t do the psychoanalysis for students? Many special needs students are immunocompromised and I for one don’t want to put any of my students’ lives in danger by taking germs from one student/family to the next. Much of what we do is hands-on. It can’t be supplemented in a Google meet or online learning. That doesn’t mean we aren’t trying but having to go through litigation for something that is beyond our control and with so many uncertainties is ridiculous. Special education isn’t the same as practicing medicine.

      • JH 2 years ago2 years ago

        Layla, thank you so much for responding to my comment. Let me clarify my point, in that I am not referring to the classroom special education teacher who is always thinking of ways around the “system” to get the support my child needs to succeed. I am referring to your admin, your school districts, the authority who holds the money that limits your abilities in supporting my child, having tied your hands in accessing programs, … Read More

        Layla, thank you so much for responding to my comment. Let me clarify my point, in that I am not referring to the classroom special education teacher who is always thinking of ways around the “system” to get the support my child needs to succeed. I am referring to your admin, your school districts, the authority who holds the money that limits your abilities in supporting my child, having tied your hands in accessing programs, testing, specialists, the support you and he need.

        I am referring to the teacher unions who should be getting behind the kids that are at highest risk of failure and of not being able to get a job to support themselves as an adult when they exit school.
        They should not be stepping away from the plate but embracing it.

        This is a time for innovation, for new ideas, So much talk of litigation, there are far more malpractice attorneys than special ed attorneys, what if we in medicine stepped away from the plate? Medicine is not special education but there are many similarities. Our kids need specialists to be able to access education. In medicine we are accessing specialists via telemedicine, they can’t lay their hands on the patient but they can still greatly contribute to their care. It’s about communication with our patients … with your parents. Medicine will never be the same, teleconferencing and telemedicine are here to stay.

        Education will never be the same. Your leaders need to recognize this, step up to the plate and come up with new ideas and strategies to support you, our Special Ed teacher who teaches and advocates for my child. Your teacher unions, admin and school districts are failing you, our children and our society if they don’t.

    • Vanessa 2 years ago2 years ago

      JH, your response seems quite articulate but misses the point in terms of ramifications for schools that are in no possible way within their control. IDEA requires many things to be done within a certain timeframe and if not done, the school can be held legally accountable and parents get pecuniary recourse (private school, money, additional services whatever else). Under normal circumstances this would be fair, because this is their right. However many of these … Read More

      JH, your response seems quite articulate but misses the point in terms of ramifications for schools that are in no possible way within their control. IDEA requires many things to be done within a certain timeframe and if not done, the school can be held legally accountable and parents get pecuniary recourse (private school, money, additional services whatever else). Under normal circumstances this would be fair, because this is their right. However many of these things just simply cannot be completed in person due to the nature of the pandemic. If a psychologist has 30 days to complete a psycho-educational which requires a person to person testing, how exactly are they supposed to do that from home?

      This is not medicine. Not everything can actually be done virtually. Some things can, but not all. In your medicine practice, you don’t have a federally mandated timeline 30 days or 60 days or whatever 30 days or 60 days or whatever to meet with your patient and complete an evaluation with dire consequences if you don’t do so. You can meet with them this month, next month etc. based on the needs/circumstances.
      IEP teams are held to a mandated timeline that incorporates many person to person aspects.So even though teams might be able to do IEP meetings virtually, again something like a psycho-educational would not be feasible to thoroughly complete virtually.

      Policy needs to make sense. These are not normal times in the system so we have put in place and the laws we have put them please do not currently makes sense for the current circumstances.

      • JH 2 years ago2 years ago

        Like education, medicine (including psychology), surgery and dental are dealing with the ramifications of this pandemic, all are in phases of delaying care. We are evaluating our patients individually and seeing them if absolutely necessary, by weighing the risks for our patients to come in for care during COVID with the risk of their disease progression. Could there be lawsuits from delay of care? Would a judge understand? Yes, they would especially as care of … Read More

        Like education, medicine (including psychology), surgery and dental are dealing with the ramifications of this pandemic, all are in phases of delaying care. We are evaluating our patients individually and seeing them if absolutely necessary, by weighing the risks for our patients to come in for care during COVID with the risk of their disease progression. Could there be lawsuits from delay of care? Would a judge understand? Yes, they would especially as care of these patients, up to the pandemic, has been timely, and within standards of care. Now there is a new standard, for medicine and education. Evaluate each student, make the determination if they need to be seen or justify the risks for delaying care and document discussion with parents. Laws do not need to be changed in the middle of crisis (especially as there is already talk of loosening restrictions). Wait to determine what the new standard of care will be, if any, and then address it.

        The underlying issue is that teachers have their hands tied by processes/barriers placed by school districts that cause delays in testing, delays in specialist consultation and treatment. I feel stressed when I cannot get specialist consultation due to shortages in that field of medicine. I cannot imagine working in an environment where that is a constant state. This is why your leaders and unions should approach this as an opportunity to demand more access to services/specialists. Can you imagine an educational system where if you feel your student needs eval by a dyslexia therapist, a BCBA, a RN, a speech therapist, you just put in a consult and it happens. Let the specialists decide on appropriate timeliness and plan of care. They have their own licensing bodies that they are accountable to.

        Sadly the IDEA laws came to be because of marginalization and discrimination. Our education system and society have and continue to do both to people with disabilities. Eliminating timelines eliminates accountability. Including in what they are proposing presently, there is no end date given. No end date means no accountability to re-evaluate. CASE and NASDSE are not advocating for our children, they are marginalizing them with this proposal.

    • Ashley Menwer 2 years ago2 years ago

      JH, thank you for everything you are doing to provide help, not only towards the paitents you tend too, but equally the parents who have children with disabilities!

  34. Sue 2 years ago2 years ago

    I like the article, Thank you so much! I just want to add something about the special education teacher. He/she is suffering a great deal. We are living in a very stressful situation and let me tell you why. The SPED teacher must deal with some of the students who are willing to learn, or they can't do anything without a lot of face to face motivation. Also, we are facing another problem that their parents … Read More

    I like the article, Thank you so much!

    I just want to add something about the special education teacher. He/she is suffering a great deal. We are living in a very stressful situation and let me tell you why. The SPED teacher must deal with some of the students who are willing to learn, or they can’t do anything without a lot of face to face motivation. Also, we are facing another problem that their parents are not cooperating with us. They left the kids using technology all the time and due to that the cancel any Google meet before 12 pm. And many many issues we are dealing with and nobody mentions that. As a SPED teacher and mom of 2 kids, I have a lot to worry about besides what we have from school strict rules. They need to think of the teacher as a human life within same critical situation.

    I really feel so sorry about myself because I can’t change anything.

  35. TH 2 years ago2 years ago

    I complete AGREE! As a current special educator, fulfilling this job has been more stressful than ever. By law, we cannot even force the students to complete the work. I do feel sorry for parents with students of severe disabilities because the services those students receive is covered by the government, but now is an unfair time for EVERYONE. Stop the pending lawsuits -we’re doing the best we can.