Are you a concerned parent of a school age child with special needs that believes the school district may be violating your child’s civil rights due to the closure of schools during the COVID-19 epidemic? Did you know the school district must provide accessible distance learning options to the child during this unprecedented time so long as the school continues to offer education services?
Schools have a legal obligation to students of all ages, from elementary to postsecondary, to offer programs in online and digital learning that are accessible by all students including those with disabilities. Students should not be excluded from any tools to assist with their learning during this time. This applies to school districts that remain open during the pandemic and continue to offer free appropriate public education or FAPE. However, if schools have closed and are not offering any educational services, the school does not have to serve students with disabilities. Likewise, a student with an individual education plan, or IEP, will not have an in-person team meeting to discuss available options to meet the education needs of the student during the period of time the schools are closed. Although, if an in-person meeting is not required, then schools may conduct the meeting with the approval of the parents or guardian.
Arguably, there is a right to a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act during the pandemic. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Feldmann Nagel Cantafio for a free consultation.
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