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Back to School 2020 with an IEP | Q and A with Attorney Laura Heneghan.

Back to School 2020 with an IEP, Q&A with Attorney Laura Heneghan
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Back to School With an IEP

I’m sorry that it took me almost a month to get this video trimmed, transcribed and uploaded. A lot has happened in the past 3 weeks, including my father going into hospice and passing away. During the first week of August, I did a Facebook Live event with Special Education Attorney Laura Heneghan. And, because 2020 seems to get in the way of everything, the day that we were online was the day that Tropical Storm Isaiahs passed through southeastern PA.

Thankfully, Laura handled it like a pro and just kept going. But, about 20 minutes in, my face freezes because we lost power. Then the video kept streaming for another 7 hours, which meant I had a ton to trim off which took forever to download.

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And, I’m still working on editing the transcription. Only the first 20 paragraphs or so have been fixed.

Begin Transcription

Lisa: All right. We are live. Welcome, everybody. It is lunchtime here on the East coast, and I hope that you are taking a lunch break with us. I’m Lisa and haven’t done a chat like this in a while. You may recognize the face next to me. That’s Laura Hennigan. She was here. I want to say it was April. Was it April? It was April. And what do you know? Things haven’t really changed since April. I think in April we were in survival mode and you know, what, what can we do, let’s do the best we can. Let’s just get through these next few months. And now, now it’s, you know, this might be a way of life for a while. personally, I know my district has just announced that we are going all virtual until Thanksgiving. So that was decided last week. So, you know, this is, this is it for us for a while. And I know a lot of families are either trying to make the decision with what options they have in front of them and trying to make the best decisions given the options that they are in front of them. So, Laura, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us where we can find you, tell us a little bit about

Laura: Sure. good morning or good afternoon, depending on where you are. And I’m really happy to be here again with Lisa and with all of you. And as Lisa mentioned, my name’s Laura Hannigan. I’m an attorney and admitted in New York and Connecticut. I currently represent families and special education issues in Connecticut. I’m also a parent of children with disabilities, so mine are high school and college age. So, though there are issues with that and returning to school, I really frequently flashback to the more difficult ears and how hard it was without a worldwide pandemic. And I really empathize with everybody, trying to deal with all of this and, and their children and mural lives and wellbeing. I really wish I could provide you with some solid answers as to what education will look like in the coming weeks. As schools start all over the country, I feel like I should have a crystal ball on my desk, because that’s kind of where we are or a magic eight ball, or it’s, it’s as good a guess as anything at this point.

Laura: so I apologize in advance that many of the answers are honestly going to be, I don’t know, but I’ve also tried to put together some solid information. You can take with you into the vast unknown, and hopefully, give you a few useful nuggets. I am, in a law firm law office of Dana Johnson. Our, website is special ed.law, and I can be [email protected] And I’m happy to answer any follow-up questions that you might have if we can’t get to all your questions. So I’m a lawyer. So I haven’t do have a disclaimer. if this is not legal advice, it’s not specific to your child and I am not recommending any specific service model. I’m just going to kind of talk through them. So we know what all the options are. Nothing I’m going to say has an intentional political undertone.

Laura: we’re all very, you know, on our toes lately with political things, there’s a lot of forces at play in this arena, including federal and state governments, local governments, teachers unions, and a whole host of others. And while I may mention these things, just in the course of the discussion, I’m not taking a position for against, I’m just trying to relay the facts to you as best I can. in terms of the facts, Lisa’s Facebook page is one of the, it’s one of my go tos for information it’s really her pandemic parents, or, she just has so much good information on there. So if you haven’t looked at it, I really I’m giving her a plug and she doesn’t know it because it really is fantastic, the amount of time and effort I can’t even imagine. and the other plug is just, we’re both members of Copa, which is the council of parent advocates and attorneys, and, it’s copa.org.

Lisa: And they’re a really good source of kind of the national information about what’s going on and advocating for children with disabilities or of country. So to kind of dig in, I like more of something else to say, at least. Well, I just wanted to mention, as, as happened last time I had you on to chat, I am experiencing storms here again. we are getting the remnants of a hurricane Isaiaihs and, I’ve had power outages all morning and tornado warnings all morning. So if I disappear, as we learned last time, your face will say on. So if I disappear, that’s why very good. Also, if you want to ask a question, you can do so in the comments we get to see them, we’re gonna kind of focus on questions that are either really common or just have a broad appeal.

Lisa: So if it’s a very, and kind of specific to the pandemic, so things like, how do I get a 504, how do I get an IEP You know, things like that. we may not get to today because we want to focus on, you know, issues related to the pandemic because so many parents are making these decisions. so yeah, so let’s get into it. You and I had chatted a couple of weeks ago in setting this up. And at that time we had both heard that perhaps there was going to be new guidance coming out from the department of ed, but none came out. Correct. So we’re still going on that March. We’re still going on that March 20th of 21st guidance, which, you know, it doesn’t seem that much. And, you know, you should always look at your state department of ed because there may be additional guidance coming from them though.

Laura: Really doesn’t say much either because there’s just a lot of unknowns. but I, the federal guidance is I think going to be slow coming, the state guidance is going to probably give you more information this point, and then each school district should be responsible for coming up with a plan that should be available to you. Now there, I don’t think there’s a deadline on when they have to submit it to parents and it may be very last minute because things are just ever-changing. And we’re just going to kind of go through some of the potential options depending on where you are and what your, your situation looks like. I see it all over Lisa’s blog and Facebook page. There’s no waiver of any rights under the federal laws, which protect students with disabilities and their education still that that stayed.

Speaker 2: We said that back in April, it remains schools are still required to provide a free, appropriate public education or faith, no matter what the delivery method, and we’ll be held accountable for not providing, we’ll talk a little about that, what that means later. so school is gonna look different in different States, in different towns and different districts and potentially in different individual school buildings within a district, depending on a lot of factors, there’s, I’m not going to go into COVID, but there’s very little known about COVID. Other than some metrics of numbers of new cases, adjusted for populations that are being used to make decisions. It’s not yet known if children under 10 contract contract react and transmit it in the same way as children over 10, there’s some studies going on, but nothing is definitive at this point, which makes the treatment of elementary school versus older children potentially modeling differently, even within a district until something changes, or if there’s a spike or there’s new research that comes out.

Speaker 2: Additionally, it’s somewhat easier though, not easy to cohort and maintain social distancing at some grades more than others. but then you have younger kids who are easier to cohort, but less likely to wear masks and wash their hands and want to just hug all their friends that they haven’t seen in six months. So, that being said, there’s a lot of issues that go into, including individual districts have to assess their venting capabilities, their facilities, access to isolation areas if somebody has symptoms. so there’s just a whole lot of things that are going into, the decisions. And there is not a lot of guidance. As Lisa said from the top down as to how to implement all that I am in Connecticut. And we were part of the initial East coast surge, and we’re locked down pretty tight and still are, we were running about two cases per a hundred thousand people a couple of days ago, but that seemed to have spiked over the weekend around 10.

Speaker 2: just to give you an idea how spots in places like Phoenix, Arizona, Florida, there’s counties with 30, 50, even over a hundred per a hundred thousand. So we’re, you know, we’re pretty low here at the same time. We, are still taking a lot of precautions. Schools are being advised to use metrics like this, to help determine when they will open and what will trigger them to change the modality of the delivery. And this number changes literally on a daily basis. So your state department of education should have the metrics that you, your state will rely on. there’s various trekkers and you just Google COVID tracker, and you can see what the numbers are in your area. Based on our numbers. Initially in July, the governor said, all schools are going back in person at full capacity. And then a few days later, he kind of took that back.

Speaker 2: And the message was that, well, school will be able to decide whether they go in at capacity or a hybrid model or really what they want to do. so between now and school opening, it’s potentially going to change again, no matter what it looks like at the end, there are different modalities, which are possible. So I just want to take a few minutes to discuss them because there’s a lot of confusion I see out there on, is my child being homeschooled because they’re receiving school at home. Are they home bound because they’re stuck at home what does distance learning mean What does e-learning mean What do all these, you know, we’ve got new terms coming every day, synchronous learning, asynchronous learning.

Speaker 3: so hopefully this will help

Speaker 2: The whole distance learning is a bit of a black hole. There’s so many terms and there’s very little clarity. I, I kind of relate it to like the non-GMO or cage free eggs, where people are using these terms in different ways, and there’s no guidance as to what it actually means. So,

Speaker 3: I love terms that actually

Speaker 2: They have definitions. So non synchronous or asynchronous learning is when your child is learning the same material, but at different times and locations. So, your teacher load something to the computer, your child’s looking at it independently. Synchronous learning is when students are learning at the same time, that can be in a classroom, it can be on a computer. So the classroom is open and you’re learning things at the same time. And those are two of the terms that don’t change. The other ones that are a little fuzzier, you know, online learning typically is using computers and web based tools to allow teachers to post student content and assignments that the students are going to do independently. it’s an, a synchronous approach because their students are doing it by themselves. Students who can’t work this way are really challenged by the lack of support.

Speaker 2: And I think a lot of us saw that. And, you know, the previous months, it also requires parent of, availability and, involvement for the technology, for the content. And, you know, as parents, we’re still trying to do the normal things we do during the day, socially socialization for students not available with, you know, an online, that being said, there are students who it really, it worked really well for and made a lot of progress. So, you know, I’m not, I’m not saying anything’s good or bad. It really depends on your area. The visual abilities, virtual full instruction is a different term, meaning that the teacher is live providing instruction in real time, using devices. So, you know, your zoom, your Google meets your whatever those platforms are Facebook live. So students can ask questions, they can get clarity on things.

Speaker 2: They can internet interact with the academic content and get teacher support. And it also can allow peer interaction. e-learning is a kind of general to a term for electronic technology. And it was funny. I was really trying to figure out the difference between all these before, I came on and it was ridiculous how many definitions cross each other So the takeaway on that is there’s a lot of terms, meaning different things to different people who are using them, and when it comes to what your child is receiving, make sure you understand what the meaning behind that term is for your child. So if you receive a notice that the school is going to be distance learning, follow up with an email for clarification, what distance learning means Does it mean live instruction, recorded instruction, synchronous, asynchronous, and will different modalities be used throughout the day

Speaker 2: And if so, what’s the breakdown. because I think, you know, you’re, you’re gonna know your child and you’re going to know which way they learn better. And it’s important to know that information in advance if you can, and to commute communicate cool. So when it comes to options of how it’s going to look, when we go back, we’ve got in school, which, you know, I like, like to say traditional old school learning, but it’s not, it’s not going to be what it was. FAPE free and appropriate public education still has to be provided, but it may be in the form of cohorts, which are small groups of children that they’re going to keep together in groups, so that if there is any kind of breakout, they can, you know, know where it is and where it’s happening in isolation. So, that makes things difficult, like a least restrictive environment, which is LRE.

Speaker 2: And that’s a requirement that your child be educated in the least restrictive environment. If you’re placing them in a cohort, you’re limiting the students that they interact with. But the primary issue in all of this is safety for staff and students and everybody in the school. So, you still need your, your school is still required if there is an in school component to provide transportation. And, you know, CBC has its own rules on distances and masking and all of those pieces. And they don’t exactly run, to being on a bus filled with. So, I was listening to dr. Fowchee yesterday and, you know, somebody asked him the question about if, if I can’t do all these things at the same time, what do I do And he really said, if, because some schools are saying three feet distancing, and some schools are saying six feet distancing and all the, all of the advice we’ve gotten so far has been 60.

Speaker 2: So it’s kind of what do we do now. And, he really said, if you, if you can’t maintain six feet, everything else needs to step up the masks, the handwashing, the checking, temperatures, all those pieces become that much more important. And really, we just have to do what we have to do. because the balance of kids being in school is really important for kids’ development. It’s important for the economy. It’s important for the parents’ mental health. It’s important for a whole lot of reasons. So, just a big balance of everything as all of us is. So the other piece is that some districts may require you to say whether a lot of have, have sent out questionnaires, whether you intend to send your child back in person or online. And normally if you withdraw your child for school, you can always put your child back in school.

Speaker 2: That’s going to be a little potentially different because if they’re setting up cohorts and spacing and all these things, based on the number of children they expect to come back, and then a week later, you say, Hey, things are going great. I want to put my kid in. That could be a problem. So, and I don’t know if that’s going to be addressed in each school districts guidance, but it’s not going, it’s probably going to be easier to take your child from in school and remove them then from having them start in school and started at home and then putting them back in. So the next area I’m probably going to defer to Lisa on this because, cyber charter schools are not something that we have in Connecticut. It kind of sounds like a really good thing right now for people. So I’m sure there’s an interest in States that have him. So maybe Lisa, you want to explain

Speaker 1: yeah, so I forget at last count, how many States have cyber charter schools, but, at least a month of Ania, as far as the law is concerned, they are considered a public school. So, therefore all, all, you know, Ida and things like that apply yes. On the surface. And especially if you’re not familiar with them, I can see where you’d be like, Oh, that’s a great idea. however, they’re not all created equally. they actually do not get the same results, academic results as, as their brick and mortar charter counterparts or, traditional public schools. And, and, and then I’m trying to word this carefully, cause people go, Oh, you hate charter schools. And I don’t, I don’t hate charter schools. I really don’t. but I mean recently there in Pennsylvania we have three tiers, for funding for special ed, tier one, being a child who say only needs, you know, speech and language services and tier three being, you know, a very high needs child.

Speaker 1: this summer a report was released that said a full third of Pennsylvania, cyber charters only take, or are not taking any tier two or tier three kids at all. So, you know, whether that’s the parents aren’t applying and aren’t enrolling their child in, in a cyber charter because it’s not appropriate for them or, whether they’re being, you know, neglected, but clearly they’re not interested in serving the needs of the more needy or children I guess, is, is my delicate way of saying it. What I did see is that each charter school, has its own board of directors that are, citizens and that it’s up to the charter to determine how to deliver its program. And so they can differ vastly. so thank you, Lisa. Yeah. And they, I mean, they just, I mean, I’ve had clients in cyber charters and I’ve heard of things like specie valves being done over the phone.

Speaker 1: and this was, this was before cameras, you know, webcams were a lot more popular. So, you know, I’m hoping that they’re doing them all virtually now. but the, you know, just if you were going to enroll your child in any school, you know, you would look at that school’s individual results and hopefully in their delivery model and whether or not it’s a good fit for your child. And, I would expect it to be no different with a cyber charter, just, you know, you don’t just go enroll. Yay. You know, it’s a cyber charter. because again, they’re not all created equally and some do a much better job with special education than others. So, next we’ve got distance learning, which as we’ve learned has a lot of different names to it, but basically there’s a computer at one end.

Speaker 1: And with your child, funding depends on the state. If the, if the district offers an in school program, they’re required to provide a FAPE. If they also provide a distance learning program for those who opt out, it’s not yet clear if they really have to provide the faith because they’re providing one in an in school, program. Now, if you have a child who can’t attend in school because of medical issue or whatever the issue may be, they do have to provide a program, but it’s, it’s, nobody is really it’s in school. Hasn’t opened, nobody’s attacked this from a litigation standpoint. So the answer is really unclear. I would say work with your school if you’re, if they’re having in person and you’re opting out to get as robust a program, as you can, schools are

Speaker 2: Going to be held to a higher standard hopefully than they were during the panic of the initial COVID because they’ve had some time to figure this out, with distance learning, obviously there’s no transportation, the support of the program might be weaker. if you’ve got an IEP in place, I S there’s a lot of talk about, do you put the, the distance learning plan on the IEP Do you leave it as it is I think it’s a combination of both. I don’t think you give up your brick and mortar IEP plan, because the last thing we want to do is agree to less services and then have to fight for them later, but you can have the IEP spell out the distance learning components of the program, through an amendment or through, you know, an addendum or some way where you’re talking with your team about what that is going to look like and get as much detail as you can.

Speaker 2: There’s obviously no LRE least restrictive agreement, environment of with the distance learning. And as I said before, it’s kind of unclear if you can switch once school started, you’d have to really work with your district to see how they can accommodate that. And this, this is the one we all know, it takes a lot of parent involvement and, it only tends to work if you have a lot of parent environment, involvement and some peers locally who students might be able to interact with because the social piece has been really difficult on a lot of kids. So, as I said, the school is really gonna scramble in the spring and they they’re going to be given a lot of leeway and programming. and as I also said, there’s no case law yet, but hopefully there’ll be held to kind of a higher standard.

Speaker 2: So next is homebound. And that is one that I see causes a lot of confusion. Home-bound is an IEP placement for a child that’s still or disabled and unable to attend school, usually for at least 10 consecutive dates. So it’s covered by state regulation. It applies to medical conditions which COVID can, if your child contracts COVID and they need to, receive home bound services. This can apply. It does not apply if a parent or a sibling or somebody at high risk has COVID. this is not what you’re going to use to get your child services. Generally, it’s a time limit for the recovery. It requires a doctor’s note. The education itself is very minimal. usually one to two hours a day, and there’s no related services. Generally. There is no LRE, as you can imagine, any failure to provide FAPE during that is there’s no comp.

Speaker 2: And for the failure of that, it kind of is what it is. there’s no cost, whatever minimal services are provided to you are not a cost and the services can be in person online, telephonic, any of these modes that we’ve been dealing with. And at the end, you can have a conversation about the skills lost in terms of compensatory hours. but it’s hard because it’s, it is an IEP placement. Homeschool is one that is sometimes confused with, and a lot I’ve seen a lot of people have been saying, well, I’ve been homeschooling my kid now, should I keep homeschooling my kid Or should I not Homeschooling is a specific thing. It means that you actively unenroll your child from the public school system. So just because your child has been schooling at home, you’re not homeschooling, unless that’s your intent that the district has no responsibility to provide any resources or curriculum you’re on your own.

Speaker 2: There’s no funding. I say no funding, and I’m an attorney. So I’ll tell you, there’s usually exceptions to everything. I have seen cases where in a homeschool environment, there have been some related services agreed to through settlement agreement. So I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but it’s rare. state laws vary widely on homeschooling. There’s no special education support. There’s no transport, there’s no accommodations. There’s no IDPs Hanse. There’s no claim for combat. If your child does not do well with it. if you’re, if you are truly homeschooling, you can generally reregister your child in the public schools at any time. But cohorting again, may make that look a little bit different. It might not be as easy as it was to put a kid in an in school program. Once they’ve been removed. some parents, you, you know, getting creative and I applaud that and have banded or formed pods.

Speaker 2: I mean more of these words that you see, and they put together what starts to look like in emerging private school. Again, the district has no responsibility for that. You’re really giving up your right to anything from the school. So then we’ve had out of district, which is kind of our traditional, you were in school, even place it, out of school, out of district program. Under the IEP, the school district is responsible for the costs and the transportation. This is no different, you know, pre COVID then post COVID, except that the private you’re going to have to follow whatever the out of district placements program is. they are responsible for providing you with a faith. The school district is liable. If there’s no faith, there’s no cost to the parent. A lot of these programs as they were before are self contained programs to deal with the disabilities that the kids have.

Speaker 2: So you’re talking about a restrictive environment, but you generally know going in that, that’s what you’re faced with. unilateral placement is the next one. And again, that’s pre COVID same thing that the parent is choosing a program, for child that’s appropriate because the district’s program that was provided was not an appropriate program. You have to give notice on these in order to maintain your rights. And again, this is nothing has changed in this. I’m just kind of going through the different varieties of programs. parents can purchase supports and related services. There’s no combat if you place your child in a private school, you’re not limited to state approved schools. If you’re choosing to move your child to a private school, you can leave the private school at any time. And again, go back to your school district potentially at any time, exit, most private schools want their money up front and don’t usually refund.

Speaker 2: So just things to be aware of, then there’s kind of home community-based, which seems like a homeschool hybrid to me, but probably more of like the pod type it. And it’s generally a kid who was never going back to the public school. it’s very atypical. It probably doesn’t apply. you know, in most cases, the parent designs, a program based on their child’s really specific specialized, specific needs, and the school does fund it. usually under an IEP it’s highly individualized. It could be vocational, needs to provide a FAPE, usually needs a certified person to kind of oversee it. And it’s really for students with very extreme needs.

Speaker 4: Then we have

Speaker 2: Itinerant teacher service providers, which I think we’re going to probably see more of it’s a in school, distance learning mashup of the school. There’s no reason school personnel can’t come into your home. are there liability issues Yes. Are the safety issues or all the things that we can overcome Yes. Under certain circumstances, if you, if the physical therapist needs to do a home visit because your child is not receiving their services that can happen, teachers can travel around to different places and provide services, especially related services. if you can work around the liability issues, but you probably, they’re probably safer in an individual home than they are in a school building. So again, you kind of have to look at the big picture and then we’ve got the hybrid, another, you know, new word with new meaning that we’re all addressed, adjusting to.

Speaker 2: It’s kinda like the uncharted waters. we don’t know exactly what the hybrid model looks like. We know we have to be creative and cooperative because the school has the students and the teachers and the faculty’s safety, you know, primarily is their concern. I, I would say that it’s, it’s where we were, but hopefully like mock to where it’s the new and improved version of hybrid, where they’ve had some time to figure out some of the technology issues, some of the teaching issues, you’ve had time to determine what works and what doesn’t work for your child, and that all needs to be communicated. if you can assert your legal rights in this hybrid model, but I would talk to the school first because it doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to an attorney or an advocate first, but you want going in, you know, for litigation at this point, is really not going to happen with a lot of attorneys because there’s, there’s no law, there’s no new case.

Speaker 2: Law and attorneys are hesitant to be the creator of the new case law and schools haven’t opened yet. So we kind of have to see how some of the shakes out in, different areas before we can really dig into it from a legal perspective. So in this hybrid, I would just say open communication, talk to your school about what, what options they have and present solutions. Don’t just present problems. That’s always embrace the unconventional, keep open mind. so that’s kind of the, the basics of the different models. Then I have a couple other things. I just want to run through that, probably questions that will pop up. So combat, definitely going to be a huge one, you know, all the time that my kid did not get services during COVID what happens with that It is a huge unknown because it’s based individually on what your IEP team determines once school is back in, and we don’t know what that definition means.

Speaker 2: And present levels of functioning can be determined with the child, which may need new evaluations, which maybe can’t be done, you know, until we’re back in the building. So this is where hopefully the data that you’ve been keeping on your child during the last few months comes in, where has your child unwell has a child not done Well. combat services are meant to put your child where they would have been had the services been delivered. It’s not an hour to hour. So they missed, you know, 32 hours of PT. They get 32 hours of PT. That’s not true. If, if you’ve been able to work with your child at home and maintain the skills, you might not be entitled to any comp ed in terms of PT. So it’s really gotta be individually figured out once school is back. So put yourself on the school’s radar.

Speaker 2: If you think that that’s something needs to, that needs to be discussed, and continue to keep the data about how your child is doing so masks that’s, you know, a Lana top plan. what my child won’t wear I’m mask. My child can’t wear a mask, my child drills in the mask. I mean, all I can only imagine my son is 21 and he’s still chews on his shirt. So I can’t even imagine what he would do with a mask, all day, but I’ll find out. this is one of the things that should come out in the individual district districts plans, the States give guidance on how to handle it, but they don’t tell them specifically how to handle it. If your child won’t merit wear mask, there should be a medical waiver or an accommodation for a disability. it’s an opportunity as well, too.

Speaker 2: I mean, wearing a mask now is a life skill. So is washing your hands danger for free, touching your face, which I’ve probably done 20 times since I’ve been talking to you. These are things that should be incorporated into your kid’s IEP in terms of, things they need to be taught to function in life. Cause this is where we are. So use the opportunity to include steps to get your child there. Don’t just say my child won’t wear a mask, say my ch I think my child’s going to be challenged and wearing a mask. And I’d like to put a plan together as part of the IEP, working with the OT or the PT or a BCBA or whoever it may be in a school to get your kid to a point where they are comfortable wearing a mask. because again, that is life skill.

Speaker 2: And if parent training as a part of that and how you should be working with your child up to school, that’s also something that can be in the IEP. Parent training is always something that should be considered put your concerns in writing. I’d say not just to the classroom teacher, but to an administrator because this, this is going to be an issue. You know, why is that kid not wearing a mask and that kid’s wearing a mask and, it’s going to be an issue. So you just want to document and again, get it in your IEP. You can do it by amendment to you because I think it’s going to be hard to get IEP meetings with school. Initially starts, if you can address this now and talk to your team about it and start the process and, you know, let them know that you’re, you’re working with your child, but you just don’t know how to get them there.

Speaker 2: another question I’m asked is, do I have to provide them, will the school provide them I don’t think we really know the answer to that. should the school provide all the PPE yes. Through the state and the federal funding They absolutely should. would I have some asks ready for my child Yes. I have multiple, because again, they’re going to chew on them and get drawn. I’m going to drop them on the floor. So to the extent that you’re able to prepare for that, I would be proactive if you can, at the same time, if you don’t have the ability to do that, I wouldn’t talk to the school ahead of time, not to show up on the first day and say, I don’t have a mask say, you know, I don’t have any access to this, this equipment that my child needs.

Speaker 2: What, what can I do same with hand, like that’s a life skill, put it in the adaptive functioning on the IEP, put it in parent training. How do I get my kids to know how to live as germ-free as possible And then, social, emotional functioning is a, is a big one. Kids with disabilities kids without disabilities parents, all of us are dealing literally with the global pandemic. And, that’s a struggle for everybody. And I think as parents trying to get our kid to go back to school, causes anxiety and us causes anxiety and the kids, we don’t know what the right thing to do is the teachers don’t know the right thing. I mean, it’s, you, you all know what I’m talking about. So, social, emotional functioning should be a component of a school program. Again, the guidance on what that looks like is very shoddy.

Speaker 2: If, if we didn’t have enough, counselors in school before people to address issues that weren’t existence, how are they going to cover that Now we don’t know. it’s, it’s hard to address remotely. so again, I would communicate where your child is. There’s also going to be kids who were previously not identified coming in with a lot of anxiety issues who may need to be identified, increasing the number of kids with disabilities in the school and decreasing the number of resources in these mental health areas. So, there will also be some kids if school is in person are terrified to go back. So, these are all things I would communicate with the school. I would, you know, always exercise your option to keep your child home if it is in school. And that’s not the best thing for your child, but just talk to your school about it.

Speaker 2: You don’t want to give up any rights because you’re making decisions, without, you know, documenting why you’re making those decisions for your child. So when you have a virtual virtual program and this kind of ties to the combat, it’s gotta be inappropriate program. What does that mean It’s really hard that the original guidance from the federal government was kind of like, get it as close to you can, but again, they’ve had time to figure these things out. So things should be done to a better level than they were. Are they going to be held to the highest, level It’s really hard to say until anything starts being challenged. So what worked for your child in the spring What didn’t work for a child in the spring if school’s not providing an appropriate program, the way you have to resolve that is through the normal channels of filing for due process under normal circumstances, that’s a really daunting process and it can be complicated.

Speaker 2: but again, the federal government has issued no waivers. So, the people that will be deciding these things at a hearing officer level or administrative, judge level, there are people and they have not come across this either. So it’s, it’s just really uncertain if you go down that road, what the outcome at this point is going to be. and as I mentioned earlier, special attorneys might be a little choosy in cases that they take to litigation because it’s going to set new law. There’s an awful lot of, options before litigation. So, you know, talk to an advocate, talk to an attorney if you’re not sure where to go with your particular case, because there are absolutely things that can be worked out without, you know, litigation, transportation. I touched on a little before the school, if they have an in person program, the school does have to transport.

Speaker 2: You always have the opportunity to transport your own child. If you don’t like the fact that they’re going to be on a bus with other kids, you have the ability to transport your kid, the old six foot versus three foot distancing on a bus, seems to me impossible, unless you’ve got kids in every other seat individually, if we’re back in school, that’s not going to happen. So, I mean, you know, that’s at your discretion. there was a lot of issues in the spring with the lack of technology. Either people didn’t have enough computers, kids are doing their homework on a phone, we don’t have internet. so, you know, just sometimes packets, we’re just going home and not being collected now that you know what this might look like from a technological standpoint, if you intend to utilize distance learning and you don’t have the appropriate equipment or services or abilities in yourself to, operate them again, parent training comes in school resources.

Speaker 2: There’s, there are a lot of resources in terms of hotspots and States are buying laptops and things like that. So I, I would talk to the school if the district offers an in school option and you opt out again, it’s going to be a discussion about why you’re opting out and what the school can provide, but they still have a requirement in the big picture to provide your child with a fate. I wanna touch on privacy concerns cause I’m a lawyer and, you know, lawyer thing, I talked about this the last time that we spoke that there were some privacy concerns on both the parent and the school side school. They’ve got really no legitimate legal issue of having the classroom recorded or the video going. That was an argument way back when all this started, it, it doesn’t hold water. at this point, they, they really can’t not provide life, services because of privacy issues.

Speaker 2: You have birthday parties, you have other things when people are coming into the hall into the classroom. So it’s, it’s kinda the same at the same time. you should use your best efforts to have your child in a quiet environment where there’s other people not watching the classroom. and some districts have asked for that parents sign agreements to that effect. I wouldn’t sign an agreement, but I would agree that I’m going to make my best effort to make sure my child’s in a quiet spot. Schools are also still mandated reporters. So anything going on in the background of what I’m doing, what you’re doing, what your child’s doing, is reportable. And I would just always caution parents to be aware of that. If there’s, if there’s stuff left out, if there’s things going on in the background, teachers are required to report that kind of stuff.

Speaker 2: So just keep that in mind. another big area, Paris support, especially if your kid was getting a one-to-one support. These obviously are kids who really, probably suffered amongst the, the greater cases and the parents as well, trying to go from the one-on-one in school support to kids are home and, you know, very little support other than, than what parents can provide. You can absolutely talk to the school about if, if they’re not having an in school program, that’s thunder my area. talk about having a parent come to your home like we discussed before. There’s no reason. if you can’t work through the liability issues that a para can’t come to the home and work with your child can come to the home. PTs can come to the home. Why not a para the other option would be hiring someone on your own and asking the school to reimburse you for it.

Speaker 2: I would ask them ahead of time because you’re going to potentially incur costs and then not be reimbursed. But as part of the, I don’t want to say con compensatory education because that’s like a hot button with a lot of school districts, but as you know, compensatory services for what they’re unable to provide, but should be, they might be able to work with you on, on any kind of thing like that. if you, as a parent are technically acting as the para requests training, the BCB BCPA, or the OTA, a OT or PT can train you in what you should be doing with your child. it’s not likely that the school is going to pay you to be your child’s parent, but if you have the ability, it might be, you know, a good option, evaluations. This is another, you know, in the world of unknowns, it’s still an unknown.

Speaker 2: If you’re in the middle of evaluations or requesting initial evaluations, again, there’s been no waivers of timelines under the Ida. These things have strict timelines within which things are supposed to be done. And obviously haven’t been done. You can generally mutually agree to waive. but again, trying to be creative for most evaluations in order for them to be valid, you’ve gotta be in person. you know, when it kind of psychological neuro-psychological psychiatric, any of those things, obviously OT, you know, they need to, they need to see the kid. There are some rating scales that parents would do that can be done remotely, but without the big picture, it’s really not complete. So if, if your school is not doing in school, can you hire a private psychiatrist, psychologists, neuroscience, to do the evaluation and, and get reimbursement again, I’ve talked to them. I had up time, but if they’re not giving you an option, it seems like a reasonable request. If the school is not having in school, but they’re, their psychologists are available. Maybe they can come to your home for testing. If some students are in school and I’ve heard that this may happen in some districts to that,

Speaker 5: You know, the, the kids that need it

Speaker 2: To be in school to most Mapes, be the ones that start out in school. So if some kids are in school, can my kid just come in for testing just try and think outside of the box, then food’s gonna change amongst everything else. They, if, if kids go back there’s, the cafeteria is going to be significantly different. And I think that’s something that a of kids, whether they have disabilities or not have food issues, they’ve got allergies, they’ve got fussiness, they won’t eat their foods, touching each other, all these kinds of things. and it’s going to be up to your individual district, the district to determine how they’re going to provide those services. I mean, they’re going to have to be some kind of, to go. It might not be in cafeteria. I think if you have a kid that potentially has these issues, or is going to have anxiety over this as a, yet another area of change, talk to the cafeteria workers, talk to the school, find out what the options aren’t advanced.

Speaker 2: So you can talk to your kid about it and potentially have to prepare meals for your child to bring in another area I would talk to your child about is, schools are going to have to have isolation rooms. And I really hope they don’t call them that, but they they’re going to need a place where if somebody develops symptoms, they can go and be isolated. And I, you know, I really would explain to your child that it’s, it’s not really different than going to the nurse’s office, if you’re sick and that somebody will come and get you when that happens. but you just, if somebody is coming at them in a masking gloves and everything, you don’t want your child to be frightened by that. So, that’s kind of all I have in general. I’m happy to take questions again. I know I didn’t provide a whole lot of answers, but hopefully so little nuggets you can, you can take with you. So do we have questions,

Speaker 2: Lisa Have you been looking at the questions at all Are you there I don’t know if she can hear me. Okay. So I’m looking at the questions. I’m just picking the most, the one I get that pops up first, would you advise a records review for three year old reeval evaluation during COVID I would recommend, you, everybody look at the evaluations and where they are in the process going back, because you need to establish your kids, present levels of performance. And the only way to do that is to assess where they are currently and where they were before. So, yeah, then I did touch on the benefits and detriments of doing them, not in person and some options that may be available. and I would really just try and be creative. So I hope that answered that. Let’s see, what are some creative ways in which you’ve seen social emotional skills targeted work done remotely I think Lisa is frozen due to the storm. She may have some, I don’t, you know, because of Kogan. I haven’t had a lot of interactions and I haven’t seen a lot of,

Speaker 2: Sorry, I’m just looking at questions. I haven’t really had been able to answer that because I haven’t really seen, I know that, you know, teachers, teachers are such good people and they’re dedicated to their students. And I think that given the opportunity to be creative and collaborative with parents, teachers would really do that kind of stuff. I’ve seen things like Orton Gillingham be delivered through zoom and the kids are doing spectacular. I can only imagine that creative people, I’m not an educator. I don’t pretend to be an educator. I would think that people are really able to come up with some creative ways through social stories and different things. And I mean, that’s the social groups. I know a lot of kids with disabilities are, have social groups in school. There really is no reason why that can’t be in some kind of virtual level.

Speaker 2: No, it’s not the same, but it’s also a skill. And that’s where our world is going. I think after this, a lot of the interactions that we do are going to be in this format because it works in a lot of areas. So having our kids kind of get used to it, it’s probably a good thing. So let’s see any privacy concerns relate to OT or speech services. Can I use privacy concerns Sorry. Those questions are jumping. I did. I touched on privacy concerns. I know, there’s really no privacy concerns with, them providing services and there’s no privacy concerns, unless you have any personally about people coming into your home,

Speaker 6: Questions are jumping

Speaker 2: Online assessments. You can tell if the child is being coached. That, I mean, that’s, that’s true. I, I think I’ve already discounted the efficacy of online assessments to, a pretty good extent. I’m trying to go back up to the top to see what I missed. Is there, yes, there will be recording of this. So hopefully it will be worth watching again or for the first time, if you didn’t see it and can tell friends,

Speaker 2: Okay, some kids cannot handle the unpredictability of school, starting school, kind of starting school. That’s starting in the hybrids. Me too. because of this, we’ll just homeschool because at this point his mental wellness is being impacted. Not knowing what’s going to happen from one week to another. I think that’s a decision that a lot of people are gonna make toward homeschooling. And I think part of my, intent was to make sure that you recognize that if you were homeschooling, your district has no responsibility for providing basically anything to you. And that if at some point, this settles down and you want to come back, that’s always an option. and the school would have to come up with, an IEP. And, but if you decide part way through that, you want to come back, that potentially could be an issue because of the cohorting. but I, I really think that there’s a lot of people who are going to opt for a homeschool, situation. Okay. would you, I think I did that one

Speaker 2: Daycare has not been agreeable to assessing, to assist in assessing children virtually. Yeah, I it’s, it’s really hard, but what about kids using assistive technology for kids with vision difficulties, if doing virtual learning, can we request the purchase release equipment if your child has a visual impairment hearing impairment, something that really is, interfering with their ability to interact and engage in that is an accommodations issue. That is a, an excess ability issue. That is something that the school should be dressing just like in school, if your child has a, an impairment, the school should be providing what your child needs, if it’s auditory and FM system, or in terms of hearing AIDS or, you know, the teachers that were the microphone. So the kids can hear, I don’t think any of that should change because again, there’s been no waivers in the Ida or the ADA and these things need to be provided.

Speaker 2: question about privacy. I need to know about other parents taking screenshots and recording my child during live meetings. And that’s, you know, when I was talking about there, you have to determine the risk that you want. you don’t know who’s recording your child on a daily basis on any field or any place they are. I don’t think it’s much different being in the classroom. I don’t think that the focus is on the students in the classroom, as much as the teacher, but if it’s interactive and there’s zoom going on and you see everybody’s screen screenshots can be taken. I don’t know if there’s filters or things that you can put into place. I just don’t know that much about that, but, if it’s a concern for you, then it’s a decision that you could make to not have your child participate in that modality.

Speaker 2: and then this work with the school to come up with an alternative based on your concerns. Okay. How can one to ones be leveraged during distance learning when the child needs constant redirection One to ones I touched on earlier. I think a lot of it depends on the age of the child with it because I’ve seen some really successful outcomes with one to ones in older kids where, maybe they have issues with technology and inappropriate use, and they’ve got the one-on-one mirrors, their computer from wherever the para is. So they’re following what the kid is doing. They’re able to interact with the kid on the computer. but they’re not physically with them as you move to younger. It, I think it becomes more difficult. And that’s where I would try to push more for either I’m an in person at home, or have somebody, ask about hiring somebody and haven’t been to school reimburse you for them, even if it’s not as much time, because really if your child’s learning at home, you know, that the number of hours they have to spend during actual schooling is less than they do in the six hours.

Speaker 2: They’re in the school building because you don’t have all the in betweens. So can a school day be cut down to, you know, three, four hours Absolutely. And depending on the age of the child, it could even be less. So, it may be negotiating to have a para come to your house or face to face with your child while they’re doing their work. For some period of time, it’s all creative, creative, can my son’s aid visit or give feedback daily Absolutely. I think at a minimum you should be getting feedback, whether your child’s in school or at home and working with the teacher communication is, is going to be key to all of this. what if your child doesn’t function remotely The school’s not providing options. What does the school district, its legal obligation providing in person support It’s, it’s unclear.

Speaker 2: And I, I know that’s like such a lawyer answer, but it’s it the, the road to knowing what the law is on. This comes from somebody challenging, it, it going to court, it being appealed and you know, this long, long process of what happens in order for law to be established or for the legislature to come in and, you know, put a law in place about it. So, right now, if your child is unable to work remotely, you need to talk to your district about what in-person options there are or what, and I, and again, I, I talked a little against homebound and I’m really not for homebound cause it’s so restrictive. But if the school is able to provide some type of instruction in the home for even an hour or two a day, that’s better than a child not accessing at all their, their education and just falling further and further behind.

Speaker 2: let’s see how well the teacher gives support to student. If they have to social distance, is it enough to wear a mask How about touching blocks for money How will this be constantly disinfected such good questions and this again, I, you know, I really have a lot of respect for teachers to my siblings or teachers. I can’t imagine, you know, teaching under normal circumstances and then going back and having to deal with all this stuff because you go, you know, if you go to a doctor’s office, now you notice all the magazines are gone. Everything that you, the business cards are gone, everything’s gone, that you would touch. How do you do that in a classroom How do you get rid of all of the manipulatives that kids will touch I’ve seen some things where you may have to have individual boxes, that are clean daily for each child.

Speaker 2: The surveys that I’ve seen on, returning is it’s somewhere between 20 or 30% of parents are saying, they’re not sending their child back, which in some ways helps with the social distancing because you’re removing a population out of the classroom and allowing more space and you’re limiting the amount of resources that you need. I think that there’s, you know, it, teachers should not be required to decorate their classrooms, nevermind provide, you know, wipes and masks and all that kind of stuff. And I, it’s something that you I’ve heard, the, state government say, we will, we’ve got them, we’re covering the PPE. We will have masks we’ll have, but the stuff has not magically appeared yet. So I could see being a teacher and being very concerned because you also can’t go to a Walmart and buy wipes anymore. and I think part of the last minute decision is really going to be, do we have the materials that we need to keep the students, the faculty and teachers safe, including the wipes, the masks, and all of those things that we do need.

Speaker 2: And I, I I’m, again, not at all being political, but I think a lot of the pushback that’s happening is from the teacher’s unions that are saying, you know, if you can keep us safe. And I think the flip side is that teachers are essential workers like educating our kids is as important as, all of these other essential worker jobs and people looking at it in a strict sense are saying, well, then, you know, teachers should be back to work. I’m not that close minded. And I understand that there’s a lot of risks. I do also think that educating our children is really important. And the, the detriment to kids from the educational and the social emotional piece has really been detrimental. So to the extent that we can provide a safe enough environment. And I don’t mean to offend anybody by saying that I’m not looking for anybody to get ill, but I think that it’s, you know, we leave our house every day and we take a risk that we’re going to catch a virus, or we’re going to get hit by a bus or something’s going to happen.

Speaker 2: And at some point we have to, decide whether we want our child to take that risk and whether we want to take that risk. So I’m not going to go further because I know that can turn into a big political discussion. But, honestly, to get back to the question, I think that you’re going to have to segregate items that children are going to touch when schools have enough difficulty, containing a lice infestation. I really don’t know how they’re gonna react when, you know, there’s a virus out there. So I don’t have answers to those questions, just like you, things that I’ve read or, just indicators on other businesses that have gone back and how they’ve handled it. Alright, let’s see what else we have. how many hours per day suggested for a child with an IEP I mentioned this a little bit for it really, and I hate this, but I’m a lawyer.

Speaker 2: It really depends. it depends on what your child is capable of learning within a specific period of time. If, and when you’re talking to your school, you should have that data and say, you know what My kid does great first thing in the morning for an hour and a half. And then they crash. They need a snack, they need a nap, whatever they need, and then their after lunch. They’re great again. So maybe the education can be tailored around kind of what that kid needs based on, how they get through the day. And I think that all of this is going to have to be flexible because kids are gonna have good days and bad days, as well as teachers and parents and everybody else. so even if your child’s in school, there may be days that you say, you know what, we’re not doing that today. And they’re going to join the, the virtual learning piece. And I would talk to a school about how flexible that is. I don’t see any reason why a kid should be able to join into the virtual part of it, on days that they’re not in school. So let’s see.

Speaker 2: I’m sorry. There’s like, I’m just trying to comments. Okay. We had in home services, pre pandemic, it was perfectly safe. Not sure how I feel with COVID happening. I think it’s so much personal. I hate to say risk. again, you don’t know if somebody’s coming to your house normally has a virus and we’re taking more precautions now, which someone argue makes it safer. you have the ability to control the environment of your own home, but it’s, it’s really gotta be, kind of an individual decision. Will private school provide us a FM system to use I think more information to answer that question, because is it, it depends on the private school. You can have a child placed at a private school that is, for kids with special needs and is, has to follow faith and all of those things.

Speaker 2: And then yes, they would, if it’s a school that you chose for your child, and it’s a completely private school that has no relationship to the public school, they may argue that they don’t have the requirement to it. It also depends on whether they receive federal money. There’s, there’s a couple of things that would go into it. my experience with private schools is they’re generally pretty flexible. And if your kid needs something, I would talk to them about it. And whether it’s a cost share or they allow it to be implemented and you pay for it, if that’s what your child needs, I would be open to that discussion. my son gets very distracted when on a Google meet with several kids, but he does well with the teacher and himself alone. Can I request this from school the short answer is you can request with everyone.

Speaker 2: And I think hopefully teachers and parents and kids are becoming a little more technologically savvy and using this equipment. And I think that some of the developers are recognizing these issues and putting in place. I think teachers have the ability to kind of meet, kids or not have screen showing some kids. So it may be that if your kid is on the screen, you can potentially block out anybody, but the teacher and I don’t know which I’m, I’m not that technologically advanced to know the answer. but it’s, it’s something I’d absolutely talked to the school about. If, if distraction in Justin’s learning is an issue that should be something addressed in the IEP. And how was that addressed what steps, what goals is the teacher and the school going to take to achieve that as a life scale Cause again, this is, this is where we’re going. having a home visits goes against the CDC guidelines. I don’t disagree. And I, sodas being on a bus with other students. And I think that we’re living in a world of guidelines and mandates and not a lot of laws and finite things. And we are all trying to, make decisions based on ourselves, our family, our situation. And that’s unfortunately the best I can offer.

Speaker 7: I was told

Speaker 2: Homebound is suspended. that’s not true suspended, suspended. Homebound is home bound. It can, if your child is suspended and your child has a special education needs, this is kind of a whole other discussion, but they maintain certain rights depending on the circumstances to receive their special education during the time they are suspended. home bound, as I mentioned earlier, is specific to a child who is in short term out of school for a medical or disability issue and receives minimal education. but it is provided for by the school district.

Speaker 7: Mmm.

Speaker 2: My kid has so much trauma. I’m so sorry. And his medical and surgical procedures, he absolutely doesn’t have a mask on and nothing will change that. I, there are absolutely going to be those kids that are going to be those adults. you know, I also think about teachers who are maybe toward the end of their career and are in danger of contracting COVID because of their age or, you know, there’s going to be people at all levels who choose not to go in. whether you’re a college professor, elementary school teacher, administrator, we’ve all got to make these decisions with, unfortunately, not a whole lot of guidance at this point. in Massachusetts, they changed the amount of required school days by 10, so far. Yeah. there that’s been happening Connecticut change at two, we went from 180 277 days. The reason being they wanted to add some additional days for teacher instruction on all of these things, it’s up to the governors in each state, or the state legislature to change these things.

Speaker 2: I know in Connecticut, we had an awful lot of, executive orders come down from the government when this all happened on a whole host of things they eventually expire or they have to be renewed, or the legislature has to act on what to do with that. So, I would imagine after some point in time, I don’t know, I don’t remember the length of time and then an executive order stays in process and it may be different by state, but, as those things come up, it’s going to be another round of whether the state government jumps in from a governor level or the legislature gets involved with some of these things. Amie, Lieberman is facials. Okay, that’s going to be in this yet to be created document for the school district. face shields, I think are good options for some kids.

Speaker 2: And, and I think that the school’s gonna have to be flexible if there is an option, your child will wear, you know, there’s masks with zippers there’s masks, that allow you to see people’s mounds move, because we’ve got so many kids who don’t read facial signs and now we’re covering up. People’s faces that, you know, I would argue that that’s something that my child needs is a face. you know, his people around him wearing these, that’s getting into a whole deep kettle of fish, but is it an argument as a parent I would make I absolutely would.

Speaker 8: Let’s see,

Speaker 2: You’re concerned about the needs of the children. Absolutely. I, nothing is, well, I shouldn’t say nothing. I’m concerned about everybody. I’m concerned about children and them not being in school because of the, trauma of not being in school and the lack of education and the lack of social emotional. We’ve got a lot of kids who are already having issues with, making friends or being in public. And now we’re, you know, we’re taking them home and, I absolutely agree. Safety safety is at the utmost. And I think the, the only way that it’s measurable at this point based on the experts that I have seen is to look at these metric, metrics that are being kept about, cases in a state hospitalizations, all of that, and then make the decision based on that and adjust accordingly. you know, it’s like one, one party of a bunch of 20 year olds set the state off into, you know, totally changing the numbers because a group of 19 to 25 year olds decided to have a party and that’s happening all over the country.

Speaker 2: So nothing is more important than safety. but it absolutely is a balanced based on all the factors let’s see major corporations are supplying PPE necessary to keep their workers safe. Teachers just want to make sure that districts are given financial support from our government to keep our children. Yeah. I mean the federal government should be supplying money, as you probably all know, the idea has never been fully funded before anyway, what a time to put some funding into it. I think that States are really struggling with where to put their resources between people out of jobs and people out of food and, people have school and all these things,

Speaker 8: Okay.

Speaker 2: The governor should enforce masks must be more. And if in school, I mean, it’s one of the interesting things to me with, with, some of these is who is enforcing it. Is it the health department Is it the school Is it the police Is it there’s, there’s some of these, you know, rules that have come down, but there’s nobody enforcing them. So, I think it’s gotta be another area, totally not school related that needs clarification on who’s responsible for, for this, because, that is where you do get into privacy issues. So you don’t need the world to know that your kid’s not wearing a mask because of whatever it is, their disability is. However, you’re going to have kids saying, Hey, you know, Joe’s not wearing a mask what’s going on and the schools are gonna have to deal with that. it’s no different than any other thing that makes your child potentially stand out that they have to deal with on a daily basis. But it’s probably, you know, one that’s going to pop up more and more.

Speaker 2: Let’s see if teachers are offering tutoring services, but not going back into classroom virtual learning, is that a conflict of interest for their position within the school My son needs the assistance, which at this point I would pay. Okay. So that’s a good question. And it, it may depend on the district. I know of instances where teachers do outside of school run tutoring, and that’s paid for by the parents. I, they may draw lines at tutoring, their own students, but at the same time there, you may know other teachers who are not, you know, you’re your child’s teacher who are offering tutoring. That’s one of those things. I would go back to the district and talk to them about reimbursement. If your child, in order to close the gap, that’s being created, needs tutoring in certain areas. and the school is unable to provide that during the school hours.

Speaker 2: It may be something that is reimbursable for you. Okay. What can parents do if they signed up for in-person option, but it turned school is not providing enough mass. What does a parent who cannot afford to buy their own masks I touched on this a little bit, but it’s a really important point. I, you know, optimally parents and teachers, and should not be responsible for providing masks and safety equipment for themselves. That being said, my daughter’s cranking out masks to go back to college because she wants ones that she likes and that, you know, not match your clothes, but, you know, she’s a 20 year old. So I think there, there is opportunity in looking at your child and seeing if there are options with characters that they like or colors that they like that may make wearing a mask, more palatable for them.

Speaker 2: If you chose the in school option and the school can not provide the appropriate, protection gear for your child to go to school, then I would not send my child to school. and I think that that’s really, as we count down to school coming up, it’s, it’s going to change day by day. And I won’t be surprised if the night before school’s supposed to start and things are changing. so stay on your, your local board of ed site to see when they release all the information, stay on your state, department of education site and see as, things come out, teachers have the ability to meet others. Okay. So that’s good. That goes back to our attention issue that teachers have the ability to mute. cause I know I’ve seen kids who, you know, they’re doing the work, but they’re also fidgeting with something else and they’re distracting other kids.

Speaker 2: So it would be good for that’s kind of the, you know, classroom control. And that might be part of what teachers need to be trained on in using these platforms, how to control your classroom, because it’s not something that they’ve had to do before. a little remote learning continue to override the AP mandates, going into fall, as it did in the spring, there has been some talk of schools doing what they can to fulfill mandates, but nothing definitive. so that brings me back to, there’s been a waiver of faith. That being said, things cannot be provided in the same way when kids are not in a brick and mortar building. So what does that mean That means we get kids back at the brick and mortar building, or we figure out a way to deliver these things in the circumstances that we have.

Speaker 2: And I think that’s the road that where we’re on now, you as parents be creative, are there ways that I can think that my child can get these services, that I can approach the school with a solution, not just a problem and talk through how to collaboratively, maybe figure this out. I’m not saying it’s possible in all situations, obviously there are kids who don’t respond well to distance learning at all. there are kids who respond really well to it. So I, you know, I think there’s not as big a problem, but it’s probably an equal problem when it appears is a kid who now does not want to go back to school. They love this. They don’t have the stress of, you know, worrying about their peers and being social and all those spaces. And that there’s going to be kids whose IEP goals and objectives are around getting them back into school. So, if remote learning

Speaker 2: Those over the IP, is that technically legal or does it violate the child’s rights Absolutely violates child’s rights. if they are not delivering a free, appropriate public education to your child, they are in violation. The only way to enforce that is to go through the legal school system that we have, which involves filing for due process, which is an expensive, timely process that happens. So in the interim, what do we do We try to work with schools, come up with solutions. We talked to advocates, we talked to attorneys, we ask questions if people, there are so many webinars out there right now on this type of stuff, either specific to a disability or specific to a state where I get a lot of information from just watching those. And, and it’s almost comforting to hear so many people say, well, we just don’t know right now.

Speaker 2: it’s not like I’m missing something or I don’t have information that other people have there. There’s just not a lot of answers. what steps must I take with the district to hire my own para I request one from school first, give 10 days a yeah. I mean, any change that you want to make, I always give notice to the school. you’re taking a risk if you hire somebody and they haven’t agreed to it, but it’s something that you are entitled to ask for and see if the school will be collaborative about because if they are not providing that service, yes, you you’re entitled to seek it and then request reimbursement again. The way to enforce these things is through due process, which is a lengthy expensive process. Very few cases end up actually dis due process. So I’m not discouraging people from seeking a remedy because there’s a lot of things that happen along the way that settle most cases, I think in Connecticut, less than 3% of the cases actually go to hearing meaning that 97% figure it out before we get there. It may not mean that everybody gets exactly what they want, but it means that everybody is better off than they were before they approach it.

Speaker 7:

Speaker 2: Some of them are comments between you, each of you. So I’m trying to only inclusive classrooms are four days. Not every imp requires inclusive class. Yeah. I mean, I’m not making generalized statements about anything. I know some schools are planning on having certain grades come in certain days of the week and certain grades it’s. So, as I mentioned earlier, district by district almost school by school because some districts have older schools that don’t have proper ventilation. So they can’t have people in there all day. They don’t have a place to have an isolation room. but they have a brand new middle school building that they can use. So it may be that some kids are there some days and other kids are not, it’s really going to come down to these. I would really not want to be a school administrator right now. And I know they are trying to do the best for everybody. And I really, I have a lot of empathy for trying to figure this all out because we are all depending on them to keep our kids safe and nothing is more important than that. Some things about the types of masks. I think that again, that’s going to come out in your, school guidance, whenever that comes out, I’ve seen some places that are not allowing the Gators, but they’re allowing other kinds of masks. If your child will wear one type and not another, and that’s against the school policy, talk to the school because they may appreciate your child wearing something rather than nothing.

Speaker 2: Okay. If you initially choose virtual learning, can you then decide to try sending the child into the building that there, the quick answer is yes, you should be able to change on a dime what you want to do. The, the real answer right now is it’s unsure because in order to keep children safe, they’re talking about cohorting or creating groups of kids that will kind of stay together throughout the whole day, especially in the, in the younger grades and to have a child come into one of those four cohorts may pose an additional danger, or they may not have the space. So it’s not as clear cut as if your child starts in school and you want to take them out that I think you can do without problem, punishment for not wearing the mask. I mean, that goes to a couple of things I talked about. There’s there’s like no enforcement. if you have a kid who was capable of wearing a mask and for some reason in school won’t wear a mask, I would think that it’s going to be like any other school violation. You’ll get a call and need to come pick up your kid.

Speaker 2: If your district votes on mass for, in school learning and States, parents need to provide mass, can that be fought It can absolutely be fought. I, again, it’s gonna vary from state to state, potentially some, some schools provide all equipment for kids, others, don’t you see teachers putting their own money into decorating a classroom or having supplies in the classroom, which, you know, shouldn’t be happening, but it does. so should the, the state and the federal and the local governments get all of the protection materials that are required for every student going in there Absolutely. If I was a parent and I was capable of providing my own kids masks, I would probably do it to, reduce the burden on the school where I could, because I’m trying to be collaborative. And, I’m trying to be safe.

Speaker 2: Please provide the names of some of those webinars. What we’ll do. Lisa is still frozen there in thunder storm. I think she usually puts a list of resources, out and again, I would look to your local department of education. I would look toward Copa, which is an organization I mentioned before. here in Connecticut, we have, seek Connecticut, which is a group of parents and lawyers and everybody else. And they have a weekly, town hall meeting and they call, have different, question and answer, or they have different experts ensure that’s happening and a lot of States. And it may be through Copa that you can find some of those resources, but whatever I can come up with, I will let you know, if you cannot afford mass for your children and see if there are other people in your community, make a that’s, that’s a very good point. Joanne fabrics has a massive donation program. I know my daughter is making mass to donate to the local women’s shelter, that are in kids’ sizes so that, you know, they have character friendly masks. And so I think that that’s an excellent point is again, we’re being collaborative and we’re being creative and we’re coming up with other ways to do it. so I think that’s great.

Speaker 2: My son did not have a para in school, but would benefit from it. Can I request one, for distance learning when it’s not as IEP, it’s not as IEP, you can request it, but you’re not gonna get anywhere. but if his skills have deteriorated as a result of COVID to a point where he needs one on one support, then you need to call for a team meeting and establish his present levels of performance and explain why he now needs that. It’s a little more complicated. If you are child shares a para, to, to then request a one on one para. But if you’re talking about a one-on-one and you can show a necessity, then I think that all these options that we’ve discussed would be open to you.

Speaker 2: Let’s see, and California schools are required to include a distance learning plan. What can parents watch out for So they don’t waive any rights. So I think a lot of schools, well here in Connecticut, they had to come up with three plans and in school plan, a hybrid plan and a distance learning plan. And, I think that’s pretty much in all the States in terms of your rights. What I would say is that even if you from the get go know that it’s a distance learning plan, you want documenting, what’s going to be provided for your child, but you don’t want it to change your current existing brick and mortar IEP, because what you don’t want to happen is to agree that things might be a little less right now because of distance learning. And then when you go back, they say, well, this is what’s in your IEP.

Speaker 2: You either want a separate document. That’s, a joint to the IEP. You want an amendment. You want something that describes the distance learning and how the school is arguing that that’s providing a faith. Initially the federal government, did come out with guidance that said, you know, fate, isn’t going to look the same as it did. They haven’t, as Lisa said earlier, they haven’t given any other comment as to if that’s still true. at the same time, the depart of education has said that there’s no waivers. So it’s, it’s such a conundrum of, they should be doing everything that they’re supposed to be doing, but they’re not. And they weren’t necessarily before otherwise I wouldn’t have a job. So what makes this different now

Speaker 2: So again, I know a lot of this is not, answering questions, but hopefully giving you some tools. Let’s see my district is going to, since learning services time, let’s say I get 30 minutes once a week of speech, should I get the same virtually Not necessarily. I think the, because staff is kind of spread thin and for various reasons, what I heard in the spring, was really virtually half the services was reasonable. And I don’t know if that still stands because we haven’t been back in school. you can certainly request and I would start with exactly what’s in your IEP because that’s what you’re entitled to. And if they decrease it because of distance learning, I would have that noted that it’s because of, distance learning. And it’s not because your child’s needs have decreased. And therefore, you know, later they go back and say, well, you only need it once a week now.

Speaker 9: Mmm.

Speaker 2: Can I get P state, no mask and IEP Or you addressed this a little bit before. So when you say no mask, there’s, there’s different levels. There’s a kid who can’t wear a mask there’s kids who don’t want to wear masks. There’s kids who are gonna fidget with their masks all day. part of the process of this new world is teaching your children through the IEP. Why wearing masks are important. So if your child physically medically, for whatever reason cannot wear a mask, they can’t force you to wear a mask. if your child doesn’t want to wear a mask, I would approach the school and say, my fellow doesn’t want to wear a mask. What, what can we do about that How could we address this Because the school should be addressing these living skills through the IEP. Hand-washing keeping germs away, not touching your face. All of these things that are becoming new skills to living in our society are things that can be addressed, through the IEP and through parent training. How do I get my kids where I’m ask, well, maybe the BCBA works with you online for a couple of hours, to work through how to get your kid to wear a mask. That’s perfectly reasonable request for an IEP.

Speaker 2: With regards to privacy, can we know what other parents are doing in order to make a better decision for a child No. So, and I rarely have such a definitive answer, but privacy comes in in a, in a bunch of ways. And another important way that it comes in is if somebody in school gets sick, the school is not at Liberty to tell you who that kid is. And I think that’s some of the reasoning behind the cohorts is, you know, it is kind of like the license infestation, where you get a notice home that says someone in the eighth grade has lice. So everybody please check your child. They can’t tell you who it is. And the same thing, if a kid or a teacher or staff member develops symptoms and is not in school because they have contracted the virus, it’s no different than any other time they’re sick. And the school cannot give that information out.

Speaker 2: Schools in most districts cannot support the special needs students with virtual learning. That is unfortunately, to a great extent, true. Hopefully, the platforms are a little better. The teachers have been trained a little better and it will be better, but there’s really no guarantees, but I don’t know what the alternatives are at this point, in my district that had check in. So I’m actually taught small group. Yeah. I have to say there, there are many, many districts who did this really well. I’ve had kids who I know had almost full day instruction who learned new curriculum, who progressed, and don’t need these compensatory services because they did well, they’re not the majority. but there are students that did well or well enough. And I say that because, you know, it’s always, even with your ESY, your targets, you have SWI.

Speaker 2: If there is potential to regress over the summer is, you know, existed. Well, that doesn’t mean that they can’t regress a little bit. It means that it’s got a significantly, their education. So are there every single child that’s been out of school since March has regressed in some way, whether it be academically, emotionally, mathematically, whatever it is. and a lot of those kids will not get addressed at all because they don’t have IEP in place in special needs. Other ones will be looking to put them in place because their children have been missing these services. And that’s absolutely something as a parent that you should do. let’s see. I was told by the special services director, our district, that they will be rewriting IPS for students choosing virtual learning, given you what you just said, sorry, it’s jumping. Should I request that they not rewrite

Speaker 2: I think you are different attorneys and you might get different opinions. And I myself have heard different opinions on this specific issue. My opinion is that I don’t want to lose anything that was in my original IEP because they have to modify it for a virtual learning situation. So me and addendum that describes the services you will be providing in this virtual platform. And then when hopefully all of this is over, we go back to where we were or we assess where we are because you know, your child might make some progress and might regress in other areas. So at the end of hopeful, COVID, you’ll really have to determine where your child is and whether the preexisting COVID IEP is still relevant. That goes for any kid. We need to assess where their present levels are, which may require evaluations, which may not be able to be done until we’re back in school. So this is, this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. I’m sorry to say.

Speaker 2: okay. Did that one, if students are supposed to get in classroom support is for the IEP, is it okay to have them receive services all day in a small group classroom taught by a special education teacher I probably need more information to specifically answer that question, but in general, if they’re supposed to get in, in classroom support and they are being supported in a small group in a virtual manner, and they are making progress, that is probably sufficient. I know we’re at one 30, I’m trying to pick out any questions I haven’t addressed.

Speaker 6: I mean, this is,

Speaker 2: This is kind of a theoretical one and I probably shouldn’t go there, but basically, you know what, what are the powers that be, think of kids with special needs and, parents who work I there’s no good answer for that. I think that’s where, and again, this is, this is not me being a lawyer. This is me being a person, in the human race. And it’s all a balance of what risks you’re willing to take. based on the precautions that are in place and based on the levels in your area, if I was a parent and certain States, I would not be considering sending my child back in person. as a parent in Connecticut, I am fairly confident right in this moment in time that they can do it, at the school that my child attends, which you know, is yet another point that I know they have the space and they have the, the ability, to do it in a school I’m contemplating sending my child to it’s it’s that personal decision based on all of these factors, especially without having the school plans in our hands, it makes it really difficult.

Speaker 2: but I think that they are really working hard to put together these plans in a way that make coming back to school, hopefully a possibility at some point, even if it’s for some kids at some time and some kids and another time. So, Will this be recorded Yes. This was recorded. you should be able to watch it on the Facebook page. It’s definitely a marathon. I agree. Thank you. I’m just seeing if there’s any big topics I miss.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I guess another one I probably shouldn’t read, but I feel the schools don’t have the best interests of our children. It’s more about the money. It’s about both. and as you can tell from different actions in our government, getting the economy back online is a, is a huge motivator to getting kids back in school. That being said, I would not put much out back in school unless I personally was comfortable with the precautions that were being taken, the environmental factors in my area and knowing what the school is providing. my son’s IEP says daily 45 minute, one to one para for math instruction or the obligated to fill that. I touched on that with the paras. are they obligated to provide that Yes, they are obligated to provide that. Can they provide that right now No. so can you find a middle ground where you can kind of agree and your child can still make progress

Speaker 2: That’s the ultimate goal I am a lawyer. I am a lawyer and I do, you know, go after the schools for when they’re not doing things. I also work with the schools to get us to a point where my client is making progress in a successful environment before COVID, after COVID. it’s, it’s not about, you know, making case law and suing. It’s about getting the kid, what the kid really needs, which sometimes you have to be collaborative and, creative when you get to that. So your kid requires a one-on-one it’s in their IEP. That’s what they are entitled to right now, because it’s not possible. You have to look at some of these other options that we talked about having a parent come into school, depending on your child’s age, having them work on the computer with them. it probably won’t be for the amount of time, because time is different at home than it is in school hours.

Speaker 2: We know what their performance levels are. I mean, that’s, that’s a good question. so hopefully during COVID, you’ve been keeping information on your child’s goals and objectives and how they have managed them. And beyond that, are there other areas that your child has done really well in or really poorly in And you take that information and you go back to school and they talk about where your child currently is. It may require some assessments, which will probably not be able to be done until school is back in session. And then once that’s, then you formulate a new plan. And I recognize that what I’m saying could be six months from now easily. and I understand that that is really disappointing and upsetting for every parent of a child in school. but there’s just no alternative right now.

Speaker 2: So if there are questions here that I didn’t get to, I am happy to, yeah, I appreciate that most suggestions are hypothetical. They are because there’s so little written, still the things that I, you know, wrap up and the takeaways, the, the hard information, the few bits that you can take away are, keep track of what your child is capable of doing through all of this, communicate with your school and not just the teacher, because at this point it really is at the, at the point of you need to talk to administrators and you need to document things, because if down the line you need to request these compensatory services or things. The thing that you’re really going to need is the documentation. If you lack the technology or the wherewithal to access the technology that your child is using, the school should be addressing that.

Speaker 2: and I’m just looking through to see if there’s any other solid takeaways that are, are not, you know, cage free or non-GMO, I, it, it is kind of a black hole, this distance learning, and it’s not going away anytime soon. And I, you know, I think that myself as an attorney in this area, it’s, it’s really an interesting time. And this is just so off the top of my head, I’m a mother. I am a, you know, I am an attorney and I, this is a very difficult time for all of our kids. And it, it, it’s heartbreaking to see kids not get what they need. It was heartbreaking before COVID and see kids not get what they need. So I don’t think the fight is any different. I think that the, the tenants remain of trying to figure out solutions now, problems approaching your school collaboratively, at least at first, talking to experts, if you need, which means attorneys and advocates.

Speaker 2: We are at such a point in time. I mean, I talked to people all the time and I, I’m not charging because I’m, I’m trying to provide information in a, in an information void. And I think a lot of us are the same way. We’re just willing to share our knowledge and try to give people any sense of peace and calm that they can get. so I really hope this was helpful. I’m sorry. We lost Lisa. I’m a, sure. She’s out of power. again, follow up with me if you’d like, [email protected] is my email. I’m happy to talk to anybody or answer any additional questions that I missed. I hope this was helpful. And if this continues, hopefully, I’ll be back in a couple of months to give you updates and hopefully have more some, some more definitive news for you. So thank you. I really appreciate all of you for taking your time out of your day and attending, be well.

Back to School 2020 with an IEP, Q&A with Attorney Laura Heneghan
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