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Compensatory Services and COVID – What Should You and Your School District Be Discussing, and What Should You Know?

Posted on November 4, 2020
By Alison Morris, Esq.

Federal and state guidance made clear that compensatory (make-up) services might be available to students as a result of COVID instruction and services that were inappropriate. For links to some guidance, please see below:

United States Department of Education Guidance

United States Department of Education Supplemental Fact Sheet

New York State Education Department Supplement #2

Your child’s individualized education program (IEP) team should have discussed compensatory services with you during your child’s most recent IEP meeting. If they did not, you can always ask for another meeting to discuss compensatory services. If your child’s IEP meeting is coming up, you should make sure to discuss compensatory education and/or services during the meeting, if that is something you believe your child needs.

1) If you do not have a list of the days that services/instruction was missed or days services/instruction was not meaningful for your child, you should go back in your records and make a list of those days. You should also make a list of any regression you have seen in your child, lack of progress you have seen and in what areas, any new issues since COVID instruction began, and if any IEP goals were not met.

This is because simply not receiving instruction and/or services at the frequency (amount per week) or duration (length of time per session) that your child’s IEP mandated will likely not be enough on its own to warrant COVID based compensatory services. Therefore, you want to be able to explain why your child needs the make-up services/instruction. Did they regress in any areas? Have they not made progress? Are there new issues that arose during COVID that were not addressed sufficiently that the school district knew about? Did your child not meet their IEP goals? In what areas, and do you have examples?

If you have not let your school district know about your child’s issues with instruction or services before your IEP meeting, you should let them know at the meeting. If you are able to before the IEP meeting, you should also inform the school district about any issues your child has been having – you should always let your school district know about issues with services, instruction, or progress when they occur, and especially during COVID you should keep your school district informed in order to work with your school district regarding any of these issues.

2) Your school district should have been keeping documentation on the continuity of instruction and services it provided your child during COVID. You should ask for that documentation, and any documentation, data, tracking the school district has regarding your student’s instruction and services for your review prior to and during the IEP meeting, in order to determine if and how much compensatory services are warranted.

3) If your school district is going to provide your child compensatory instruction and/or services, you should make sure to have that determination in writing, including the amount of compensatory services to be provided, and the reasoning for the school district’s decision. You and the school district should discuss how the compensatory instruction and/or services will be provided.

4) If your school district informs you that it will not be recommending any compensatory instruction or services for your child, you should receive a written notice of that decision, with the reasoning behind your school district’s decision. If you do not agree with that decision, you should inform the school district, in writing, that you disagree with their decision and explain your reasoning.

It is important to remember every child’s case is unique. If you believe your child needs compensatory instruction or services due to COVID, and you have not discussed this with your school district, you should do so. If you have any questions, we at the Cuddy Law Firm are here to assist you.

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