We are hearing now that it is likely that school districts in the Los Angeles area (LAUSD and others) will most likely be closed until at least May, if not for the remainder of the school year.
LAUSD is expected to give an update on Monday, March 23rd.
School board members from LAUSD have stated on twitter and other places that they are working on solutions to address the pressing concerns of their high-needs population, including students with disabilities. In these statements, there has been a consistent acknowledgment of the fact that LAUSD is committed to meeting the needs of students with disabilities, which is positive. However, the negative is that LAUSD has been very cursory in any details about how this could be accomplished.
Other school districts are likely to remain closed for a long period of time as well, and face similar challenges. As we have indicated here on this page, we have already seen some districts determine that they won’t provide distance learning to any students, because if they do so, they are without a doubt obligated to provide instruction and services to students with disabilities. This is a harmful, backwards approach that potentially takes education back to the days where students with disabilities were seen as “other,” as “uneducable,” as a drain on the resources that should be available for non-disabled students. This message places blame on students with disabilities for the districts’ decision not to provide anything to anyone, potentially creating division and backlash at a time when it is critical that we all come together.
LAUSD and other local school districts are facing challenging, difficult times for sure, as are all of us in this crisis time. The challenge should be for LAUSD and others to find creative, innovative and alternative solutions to ensure that ALL students are appropriately educated in these trying times, rather than to try to find ways to avoid providing services to students with disabilities. IEP meetings need to be held, so that teams can come together (via phone/video) and come up with creative solutions. We live in a time with access to immense technology, and with brilliant minds capable of thinking of innovative ways to use that technology for real solutions to the current problems in education. We need to be tapping into that innovation to ensure that every student has equitable access to educational benefits, and that students with disabilities are not left out of the equation and sent home with zero access to the supports they need.
We are here to help families navigate these difficult times. We are committed to supporting parents in protecting students’ rights, to working with teams to find solutions, and to advocating for a FAPE. Contact us with any questions.