As an organization with a unique focus on serving children and families with special needs, we do our best to be aware of significant issues happening in the community. COVID-19 continues to dictate our day to day in an unprecedented manner. Schooling at home carries additional challenges for teachers and parents engaging with children who require extra help and resources to manage their educational needs.
In normal circumstances, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act ensures that such families receive the support they need in the education system.
“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.The IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.” Source
Due to the constraints of COVID-19, some school districts are unable to provide the resources and support available. Some students aren’t receiving any instruction online at all. Now the issue is coming to a head in Washington, DC, as advocates and administrators go head to head over how to best support these students with the resources available.
According to the Washington Post,
“The advocates are demanding that school districts deliver education equitably, as the law requires. Administrators say they cannot do the same things they did when schools were open and need some flexibility.”
In short, advocates are demanding that all tenets of the IDEA be upheld and all legal rights afforded to students, and no waivers to the authority of the law should be granted.
Administrators, on the other hand, argue that waiver authority is necessary.
“Local education agencies (LEAs) are facing a great deal of compliance challenges which are taking our focus from educating children with disabilities and shifting, focusing our effort on paperwork. Without flexibility, we will generate endless cycles of reporting about how COVID-19 caused money to be unspent, evaluations to be delayed, and services and supports that are in IEPs that are not able to be implemented.
(From the letter from the special education administrators’ organizations seeking flexibility from Congress)
Read the full Washington Post Article here for full copies of the letters detailing each side’s case in the matter.
How is this affecting your family? Are you receiving the support you need? Let us know and don’t forget to share!
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.