The U.S. Department of Education's (US DOE) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services recently released a Question & Answer titled the Return to School Roadmap: Development and Implementation of Individualized Education Programs in the Least Restrictive Environment under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

US DOE issued the document because it “is committed to ensuring that children with disabilities receive the services and supports they are entitled to under IDEA so that they have successful educational experiences.” It noted that educators have provided services and supports to children with disabilities in ways that were never anticipated prior to the COVID 19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education also recognizes that schools have “worked hard to meet children’s needs and provide required services, given the unprecedented educational disruptions and other challenges resulting from the pandemic. Even with these efforts, some children with disabilities were unable to receive appropriate services to address their needs so that they could make progress toward achieving the functional and academic goals included in their individualized education programs (IEPs).”

This Q & A discusses a wide range of topics, including ensuring that IEPs are in effect at the start of the school year, convening the IEP team, determining appropriate measurable annual goals & considering the child's need for compensatory services, making extended school year services determinations, considering secondary transition services, making educational placement decisions, and resolving disagreements regarding a child's educational program. It also examines three special factors for students with disabilities: assistive technology needs, social, emotional, behavioral and mental health needs, and health needs for students with underlying medical conditions. 

As always, the OSBA division of legal services continues to monitor the legal landscape and will post information as it becomes available. If you have questions, please contact the division at 1-855-OSBA-LAW.

Posted by Ralph Lusher III on 10/1/2021