In addition to the alternative forms of dispute resolution under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the two decisional avenues are adjudicative and investigative. The adjudicative avenue starts with a due process hearing (DPH) and culminates in court proceedings. The investigative avenue is the written state complaints (WSC) process, which provides for judicial appeals in only the minority of states (e.g., Zirkel, 2019). COVID-19 represents a new context of the ongoing issues that are subject to resolution in these two decisional avenues.
Under IDEA, students with disabilities are still entitled to compensatory services once the school year begins, even if school hasn’t officially reopened in person, said Perry Zirkel, Ph.D., J.D., professor emeritus of education and law at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. He recommends requesting a meeting at the beginning of the school year with your child’s IEP (individualized education program) team, so that you can meet and determine your child’s present level of performance.
While the agency’s attempt to differentiate between compensatory and “Covid recovery services” might be well-intentioned, the “differentiation is not all that clear,” said Perry Zirkel, a professor emeritus of education and law at Lehigh University, who frequently blogs about special education.
Dr. Sara Kangas, assistant professor in Lehigh's Special Education program, is the recipient of a Small Research Grant from the Spencer Foundation. The project is funded ($40,766) for one year and focuses on the barriers English learners with disabilities experience on their journey to reclassification. The title of the funded project is "When English Learners with Disabilities Become Long-Term English Learners."
Twenty years ago, a visitor to Centennial School would have heard a cacophony.
“Banging on doors, yelling, wailing,” said Julie Fogt, the current director of the school. “Adults were loud: ‘Stop that, stop that! Crisis! I need help!’”
It was a private school, but public schools paid to send their most troubled kids there. The school took only children who had both a diagnosis of autism or emotional disturbance and a history of severe behavior issues.
When schools closed this spring to curb the spread of coronavirus, special education administrators feared the risk of complaints—and potential legal action—from parents and disability rights advocates for running afoul of federal civil rights laws.
Stressed over concerns that they'd be swamped with lawsuits if they could not offer a comparable education for all students, including those with disabilities, some districts were even initially reluctant to offer any online learning.
Kangas examines through multiple studies how state and federal policies and structural issues in schools can be barriers to learning.
In the middle schools and high schools that she visited for her research and studies, applied linguist Sara Kangas noticed a disturbing trend: high percentages of English learners (ELs) with learning disabilities.
Principals, along with teachers and the public, often have perceptions about key issues in school law that are remarkably wrong. Yet, principals help reinforce these prevailing misperceptions by sharing them with others, ultimately contributing to misguided practices and policies.