In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters. And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. Providing education is proving to be very difficult.
Yesterday's post described an investigation by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights into "disturbing reports" of how Indiana and Seattle handled special education during the pandemic.
Stephanie Wang at Chalkbeat:
The department has also opened up investigations into Los Angeles Unified, Seattle Public Schools, and Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, according to letters obtained by Chalkbeat. The four investigations — each announced in letters dated Tuesday of this week — all cite “disturbing reports involving the District’s provision of educational services to children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Los Angeles Unified appreciates the concerns of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and we will cooperate in its investigation,” a spokesperson for Los Angeles Unified said in a statement. “Until it is safe and appropriate to resume in-person services, we’ll continue to do our best to help those most in need with individual and small-group support in an online setting.”
A spokesperson for Fairfax County schools said the district had just received notice yesterday of the investigation and could not offer an immediate response. A spokesperson said Seattle Public Schools planned to fully cooperate with the investigation, according to the Seattle Times.
At KCBS/KCAL, Kristine Lazar provides one disturbing report:
Though the state allows school districts to apply for waivers allowing TK-second grader and special needs students back in the classroom, LAUSD has not applied for one.
Katherine Collins, mom to a 7-year-old boy with autism, said she started the process for his individualized education program, or IEP, just four days before the shutdown last March.
She said when school started back up in August, the district was no longer responsive until she said she sent a strongly worded email.
“When someone finally called me, it was the [special education] coordinator, but he’s in charge of three schools,” she said. “How’s that going to get everyone’s needs met?”
She said she worries about the kids with families who do not know the law or do not have the time to hound the school district.
“The majority of people that LAUSD serves do not have my privilege,” she said.