When our State Superintendent of Public Instruction tells us that it’s not within agency control (OSPI) to create necessary change for your child, “It’s incumbent upon family and local districts”, one needs to take this to heart. In fact, it appears that districts are thrown under the bus for there is no clear guidance except it’s now up to parents to “keep on pushing”. I have never heard a clearer statement in favor of educational advocacy than ever before: You are on your own as a parent. So I am pronouncing the following again: “Never go it alone” when it comes to your child’s IEP or 504 Plan: Your child’s education depends on your ability to advocate for his or her rights. Due to the complexity of the current conditions, with COVID, and distant learning on the horizon, it’s time to work with others who know how to navigate the path between family and local districts.

On August 26, 2020, State Superintendent Reykdal graciously participated in an informative webinar conducted by WA State ARC; this video is available at the link below. In this important zoom session, he outlined a call to arms for parents in light of the recent COVID scenario. Most notably, he stated the following: “Have high expectations and keep on pushing“.

When the conversation addressed the needs of our IEP supported students, his guidance was specific: “Our buildings are open for one to one supports”. He also stated the following: “We expect students to be served; our buildings are open. It’s the only way it can be done”.

The COVID guidelines, associated with IDEA / FAPE mandates, have been clearly drawn. Within WA State, the following provides guidance:

Reopening schools requires that districts and families work together to support positive learning experiences for students with disabilities. Understanding that many families have had negative experiences in preK–12+ settings, and specifically in special education programming, families must be appreciated and supported as essential partners. As educators, our first role with families as they return to learning, is to listen to their needs. Re-engaging and reaching out frequently, systematically and across multiple mediums is critical to ensure connectedness and support. It is important to understand that families may still be in crisis when school buildings reopen, may experience a new crisis during the school year and that the educational system may have historically been a stressor for many of these families. Collaborative, ongoing discussion about an appropriate path forward for each student, given each student’s unique needs and circumstances, is critical to ensuring equitable access and offering of FAPE for students with disabilities. We know every family situation and feeling about the current pandemic, while a shared experience across the globe, are as unique as the needs of the students. Honoring the fears, challenges, diversities, and preferences of families is critical to the success of students with disabilities in reopening our schools.

Moving this from a statement to a call to action, the following is recommended:

  1. Adjust IEPs as needed
  2. Provide additional services, accommodations and or modification.
  3. Develop policies which address students who require in-person services

Upon return to in-person school settings in summer and/or fall 2020, districts are expected to prioritize re-implementing pre-closure IEPs and to adjust IEPs, as needed, to provide additional services, accommodations, and/or modifications. Districts should develop policies, procedures, and practices to support IEP team decisions about individual student needs, including which students require in-person services. The content areas that follow, including IEP development, provision of services, technology supports, and specific strategies for individualized student needs are intended to support districts and IEP teams to make individualized decisions regarding services, including in-person supports.

As a result, it’s imperative that parents take this lead: Your child’s IEP (or 504 Plan accommodations) is guided by your ability to work with the district. You cannot count on the district to mindfully develop the best program for your child without your partnership and input. As a experienced education advocate since 1998, I continue to express the following sentiment: It’s critical that we create mutual understanding across the table, following an evidence-based approach to decision making, and build our intervention plans based upon what already works; strength-based. Our State Superintendent said it this way: “Continue to show compassion for your local schools” as you keep-on pushing for your child’s IEP needs and FAPE.

Finally, as Chris closed out the presentation, he shared the following personal belief: “I feel confident to put my kids in public school”. This is telling; especially as we explore developing individualized plans for students who are needing IEP supported services and supports on site. Know the following: If the IEP Team determines that the best instructional model for your child would serve your child through on-site instruction, transportation is also provided.

Have high expectations and keep on pushing!

For more information, contact Larry directly at 206 914 0975

PS Thank you to Stacy and the ARC of WA Team for the Zoom session: August 26, 2020

PSS Please read the following FB Post from August 4, 2020 about RECOVERY SERVICES and COMPENSATORY SERVICES due to Covid:

RECOVERY Services and Your Child’s IEP:

As you navigate a return to school, there are so many loose ends and unknowns; one is described within the context of RECOVERY SERVICES. Here’s how OSPI sees this: “Use of the term “recovery services” in this document is not intended to eliminate or reduce obligations to provide compensatory education for special education services that were denied or inaccessible during the school closure. It is a term for additional services needed during the school day due to lack of expected progress during the closure.” How do you see your child’s progress from the Covid Schedule lens? Do you see a lack of progress due to “inaccessible” services?

If your child is supported by an IEP, likely, you will clearly think this as follows: “ABSOLUTELY MY CHILD WAS IMPACTED BY THE COVID SCHEDULE DUE TO INACCESSIBLE SERVICES”.If so, this is an issue that needs to be immediately addressed with your child’s IEP Team and collaboratively addressed together. If you are needing support on this path, write me for I have extensive experience working with the IEP process; whether we are looking at RECOVERY SERVICES or COMPENSATORY SERVICES.