This page has links to what the SPUSD and government departments of education say about services for students with special needs during the coronavirus outbreak. It has plain-English summaries of what they say. It also has information for parents from other organizations and agencies. If you have suggestions for things to add, please let us know. We really want to add resources in Spanish and Chinese and information about mental and physical health care support (insurance, Medi-Cal, telehealth). Please contact us at email@example.com.
South Pasadena USD Information
Prior Written Notices
- April 3, 2020, Prior Written Notice | This letter from SPUSD tells parents that the SPUSD will be teaching students with “independent study distance learning” from April 6 through the end of the school year, June 3, 2020.
- March 14, 2020, Prior Written Notice | This letter from SPUSD tells parents that the schools will be closed from March 16 through spring break.
- Notice to Parent/Guardian/Surrogate of Procedural Safeguards | This document from the West San Gabriel Special Education Local Plan Area* says that parents have the legal right to dispute the district’s decisions about their child’s education and explains how to do that.
*a group of districts that cooperate to provide special education services, which SPUSD is part of
Independent Study Distance Learning
The SPUSD guide to independent study distance learning is here. Students’ teachers and case carriers should have told parents how classes and related services will happen and told parents how to contact teachers and staff. If you have not heard from your student’s case carrier or teachers, contact the Student Support Services office. The staff is working from home, so you should call or email. All the email addresses are first-initial-last-name (at) spusd.net.
State of California Guidelines
California’s Department of Education has given guidance to school districts about what changes can be made to special education programs at this time. These are here. Some of the key guidance, in plain English, is:
- Schools have to provide fair access to students with disabilities to learning. Schools have to match the way they teach to what individual students need. The way they teach can be different because schools are not open, but they should be at the same level (“commensurate”).
- If the school teaches students with disabilities, but not at the same level (for example, if students are not meeting goals), schools may need to give students extra services later to make up for it.
- The federal government has not changed any of the rules for special education. Schools should do their best to follow deadlines and other rules in the the law. But California will be “reasonable” about checking and punishing schools if they don’t.
- Schools don’t have to change IEPs in order to switch to distance learning. But the school and/or parents can ask for changes to meet individual students’ needs.
- Schools can provide in-home or in-person services, if they are needed to keep students healthy mentally and physically, so that they can learn. In these cases, service providers are “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” in state law. Schools can have small in-person classes for students who need a lot of help even if the school is closed.
- IEP meetings can be held online and signatures on documents can be digital.
- The California Department of Education usually has 60 days to respond to complaints that schools are not following special education law. This deadline has been suspended until schools open again. Due Process Hearings may take longer than before, and they will all be online.
U.S. Department of Education Guidance
The federal Department of Education has given guidance to schools about special education during the pandemic.
- Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students
- Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities
- Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak
The key points are that:
- Schools must teach students with disabilities if they are teaching other students.
- Schools can teach students with disabilities through distance learning.
- The department accepts that services might have to happen in different ways and that some hands-on services, like OT and PT, might have to stop if they aren’t safe.
- The department tells schools to be creative and try different ways of teaching so that students with disabilities have a fair chance to learn.
Resources on Distance Learning
Some organizations have information to help parents with their children’s distance education.
- ChildMind Institute This nonprofit helps children with learning disorders and their families, and they have made a special page with guides for parents about learning during the pandemic.
- Educating All Learners Alliance has a resource library for teachers. There are many guides that can help parents too, like Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times.
- Commonsense Media has a list of educational apps for students with special needs and a page of parent guidance for distance learning (not specific to special needs)
- Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities webpage of resources for teachers and parents on what works in distance learning.
Nonschool Agencies for People with Disabilities
Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center | The website has mostly information for service coordinators, not parents/guardians. There is a document that explains coronavirus to people with disabilities. The service coordinators have been told to be flexible to help families at this time. Family fees and cost participation have been stopped. If your child is a regional center consumer and needs more help, call or email your service coordinator to ask for it.
California Department of Developmental Services, which runs the regional centers, has a FAQ with information about help for people with developmental disabilities from places other than schools.
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services says that you can call the hotline at 1-888-822-9622 to ask for more In-Home Supportive Services hours (a person comes to your home to help your family care for disabled people). To apply for IHSS, you can call (888) 944-IHSS (4477) or (213) 744-IHSS (4477).
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