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Addressing needs of students with disabilities during coronavirus-related school closures
April 27, 2020
One of the many issues that schools have struggled to address during school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic involves the delivery of services to special education students. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines 13 categories of special education, and it entitles children with disabilities which adversely affect the child’s educational performance to a free appropriate education (FAPE). How can schools deliver special education and related services to qualified students and ensure the receipt of FAPE when students, teachers and related service providers are home and the governor has prohibited all non-essential gatherings?
In a NYSSBA webinar on Saturday, April 11, a State Education Department official addressed questions related to compensatory services – educational services that are provided to students with disabilities to make up for services that they were entitled to but denied due to circumstances that may or may not have been beyond the control of the school district. Assistant Commissioner of Special Education Christopher Suriano said that there is no blanket entitlement to compensatory services for all students with disabilities. Rather, it would be appropriate for school boards to make case-by-case decisions relating to the services and support that individual students were able to receive through distance learning and to implement individualized plans for compensatory education when recommended by the Committee on Special Education (CSE).