From: CEA Legal Center
Date: April 7, 2020
RE: COVID-19 Legal FAQ Update – SPED Services
This memorandum serves as a guidance to frequently asked questions presented to the CEA Legal team regarding how to respond to the unprecedented epidemic sweeping our nation. The FAQ’s will be updated as we address questions from the field. Please be patient and understand that these circumstances present new and uncharted areas of law. CEA Legal will provide the best advice it can based on its understanding of current law however, the law is unclear in many areas.
Question: Can SPED services, including IEP meetings & instruction, be provided electronically under the law? If so, what requirements must be met?
If a local education agency (“LEA”) continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE. LEAs must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP developed under IDEA, or a plan developed under Section 504.
IEP Teams are not required to meet in person while schools are closed. If an evaluation requires a face-to-face assessment, the evaluation would be need to be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations that do not require in-person assessment may occur while school is closed with the consent of the student’s parent/legal guardian. Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students
Email communication may serve as notice to parents/legal guardian with their consent. 34 CFR § 300.505
Unless and until the US Dept. of Education provides flexibility or waivers, LEAs should do their best to adhere to IDEA requirements, including federally mandated timelines. Distance technology can help assist in meeting these requirements.
As of March 24, 2020, The CDE has suspended the requirement to complete IEP file review for school age students (4-14yo) and early childhood students (3-4yo) for 2019-2020 to do COVID-19 related closures of school buildings. Age 15+ IEP record reviews are still required; however, deadlines have been extended until October 1, 2020. Standard Record Reviews SY2019-2020 Suspension and Extension Information
- USDOE Q&A on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During Covid-2019
- USDOE Office of Civil Rights Fact Sheet
- CEA Teaching and Learning SPED Guidance
- CDE Resources
As always, expect issues to arise not covered by this FAQ. When legal issues related to a local or member’s specific situation come about, please contact CEA Legal to speak with the Officer of the Day.