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How to Get Compensatory Education Services for Your Child with Disabilities

If your school failed to provide all the special education services called for in your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), there is a way for you to make it right: compensatory education.

Compensatory education services aim to catch up your child on what they missed during a gap in services. You can ask for it under special education law. It can be the key to helping your child recover from a difficult period at school.

It’s not always simple, though.

Deciding how much and what kind of compensatory education to provide requires evaluating your child’s education level now and designing ways to fit additional instruction into their routine.

The school may not always agree with you on what needs to be done.

A special education lawyer can guide you and your family through this process, so you know your child is getting everything they are eligible to receive.

On this page, the special education attorneys at the Cuddy Law Firm provide an introduction to compensatory services. To talk about your child’s specific situation, get in touch with us.

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What Can Your Child Get with Compensatory Education?

Compensatory education can take two broad forms, according to the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA).

  • The first type matches the exact amount of instructional time your child missed, down to the hour.
  • The second type is a varied plan based on your child’s particular needs, not tied to exact hours.

The services provided during compensatory education can be anything you might normally see in special education:

  • Educational evalutions
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Counseling
  • Social work services
  • One-on-one instruction with a teacher
  • Instruction with learning materials in alternative formats
  • Adaptive recreation opportunities
  • Instruction with longer testing and break times

Federal law says children with disabilities are entitled to a “Free Appropriate Public Education,” or FAPE.

So when special education services aren’t provided as planned, compensatory services can ensure students still get the required appropriate education.

When services are lacking, special education law gives you recourse to address the situation and move forward.

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How Do You Create a Compensatory Services Plan?

Compensatory education became a major topic after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

When schools closed, and programs went online, millions of students missed out on getting the same special education services they otherwise would.

Deep deficits in educational progress, for children in special education and all children, compounded.

Educators and education officials turned to compensatory education to address the problem.

After an event like COVID-19, limitations in resources may make it difficult to get full, hour-by-hour replacement of lost time. But you should still be able to get a compensatory plan that’s effective.

In a notice explaining how parents and educators could map out compensatory education services to make up for lost instruction during COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Education listed these factors to consider:

  • What evaluations were missed or delayed
  • Results of the most recent evaluations
  • Where the student currently stands educationally
  • How the student was progressing before services were disrupted
  • How many educational sessions were missed
  • How much total educational time was missed
  • How many services already provided have been appropriate

Cuddy Law Firm special education lawyers advised parents during the pandemic to keep records of cancelled or altered instruction, to support later requests for compensatory services.

A special education lawyer can help you gather the information to argue for the make-up resources your child needs.

And if the school system refuses to provide what you believe your child should receive, you can push back.

You could take your case to a due process hearing before an impartial hearing officer (IHO). You could possibly appeal further to state education officials. And, if needed, you can go to state or federal court.

A special education attorney can also guide you through this appeals process, helping you protect your child’s access to educational services that help them grow and thrive.

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