Corey Mitchell at Education Week talks to experts:
Selene Almazan, legal director, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and an attorney in private practice who represents families and children in special education matters in Maryland. Almazan compiled a fact sheet to help families of children with disabilities understand what rights they have during the extended school closures.
"It is an unprecedented time. We are encouraging families to try to work with schools and school systems to figure out what's going to be best for students through distance learning and how they're going to access it.
One of the benefits of not having the IEP meeting [as scheduled] would be that it's not an opportunity for a school district to take services away from students during this time.
Julie Weatherly, attorney and founder of Resolutions in Special Education (RISE). Weatherly represents school districts in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia as general counsel and in special education disputes and she said special education directors across the country are "pretty frenetic" and focused on following the letter of the law of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
"So, I've tried to calm them, to say, 'Let's don't worry about that. Collaborate with parents, reach informal agreements, document those agreements, and then move on to 'What can I do right now? What can we do right now for your child?' What I keep telling everybody is IDEA wasn't written for this. It didn't contemplate this.
Perry Zirkel, professor emeritus, Lehigh University College of Education. Zirkel, who writes a blog that explores the intersection of special education and law, says a fear of being sued has some districts focusing on the wrong things.
A lot of the attorneys and administrators and teachers, because of the emotions and the frustrations and the procedural prescriptions of the IDEA, are focused on, 'Oh, how am I going to get parent consent?' or 'Did I document everything exactly?' or 'Did I get all my evaluations done on time?'