NASET News Alert

COVID-19 and K-12 Students with Disabilities: A Second Legal Look

April 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and its legal implications for students with disabilities continues to be subject to not only changes from day to day but also variance among both the states and the school districts within them. And due to the literally and legally "unprecedented" situation, many unknowns still loom large. the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has issued one more guidance document specific to students with disabilities in P-12 schools, which addresses the "serious misunderstanding" that "federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to distance education." This guidance counsels school personnel to engage in creative collaboration with parents to deliver IEP services technologically with the understanding that effective individualization is often feasible (e.g., "extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing"), even though not extending to some services (e.g., "hands-on occupational therapy, physical therapy, or tactile sign language educational services"). As an overall matter, the guidance advises that FAPE in these circumstances allows for flexibility both substantively and procedurally rather than being an all-or-nothing approach. Read more