U.S. Department of Ed Issues Documents Reminding Schools of IDEA Duties

October 13, 2020

Two Q & A Documents Provide Additional Clarification on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as the Pandemic Continues

With an unparalleled school year in full swing, the U.S. Department of Education recently issued new documents to school districts spelling out the legal rights of students with disabilities through the coronavirus pandemic. The first document was issued from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ Office of Special Education Programs. The main message of their document to educators does not mince words. It reads, “No matter what primary instructional delivery approach is chosen, (state educational agencies, school districts) and individualized education program (IEP) teams remain responsible for ensuring that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is provided to all children with disabilities.” The second document was issued from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. It focused on schools choosing to prioritize in-person learning for students in special education. According to their document, that priority may or may not be required, since it “will depend on an individualized determination of the student’s educational and disability related needs.” These two documents are excellent reminders to school districts that the first letter of both the IDEA and IEP is “I” which stands for individual.

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