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NYSED “Strongly Encourages” School Districts to Extended Eligibility into the 2021-2022 School Year for Students with Disabilities Aging Out! – By Alison Morris, Esq.

Posted on June 1, 2021

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) released a guidance memo on April 14, 2021 stating COVID-19’s impact “has been particularly harmful to vulnerable populations, including most importantly, English language learners, economically disadvantaged and homeless students, and students with disabilities,” and the COVID-19 problem is “greatly compounded for those students who will ‘age out’ of the P-12 education system because they have turned 21 years old by the start of school in September 2021.”

As a result of how the 2020-2021 school year played out for many students with disabilities as a result to COVID-19’s continuing presence, NYSED stated:

To ensure that 21-year-old students have the chance to earn their high school diploma and fully prepare for the transition to their planned postsecondary experiences, the Board of Regents and the State Education Department are strongly encouraging schools and school districts to allow those students who will age out of school the opportunity to return for summer school and, if necessary, attend school in the 2021-2022 school year, in order to complete their education and earn a diploma, credential, or endorsement. (emphasis added).

NYSED ended its guidance memo by stating to school districts: “this is what they deserve and again we urge you to offer them this opportunity.”

If you have a child with a disability who has an individualized education program (IEP), and this 2020-2021 school year would be your child’s last year in school, this guidance memo is for you. Did your child receive the program and services they needed, in order to be prepared to leave high school? Did they receive the transition plan services they needed? Did COVID-19 instruction and services this past year provide them with the instruction and support to sufficiently prepare your child to graduate this year?

If you have a student with an IEP who is aging out at the end of this school year and you feel as though they did not receive sufficient services or a sufficient program due to COVID-19 (such as only virtual programs or services), we at the Cuddy Law Firm encourage you to speak with your school district immediately. We encourage you to discuss and work with your school district regarding having your child return to your child’s program for the 2021-2022 school year. If you have any issues or questions, we are here to support you during this unprecedented time.

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