By the looks of social media, the nightly news and practically every conversation we’re having, the subject of what parents are going to do for school in September is a hot topic. Across the country, schools have been working diligently to come up with thoughtful plans for the start of the school year. Here in Massachusetts, public schools were tasked to develop three plans for the school year – open school with full attendance; remote learning and a hybrid program. These plans need to be submitted to the state for review in the coming days. In the meantime, districts have begun unveiling their plans and ideas, in an effort to garner public feedback from parents, students, teachers, administrators, school nurses, etc. Clearly each plan has positives and negatives and only time will tell before we know how school will look this fall.
It’s no wonder parents are confused and exploring alternative options for the 2020-2021 school year. Some parents are investigating private tutors, creating academic pods, home schooling, or enrolling in a more “established” online school. If your child is on an IEP, for which you are considering these school options, they may still be entitled to special education services. Because Massachusetts is an entitlement state and state regulations superseded federal regulations, the Massachusetts pubic school must provide IEP special education and/or related services if parents have a signed IEP.
When a family chooses homeschooling, there’s a process that should be followed (and may differ in each school district) but essentially the parents need to submit paperwork notifying the district they are withdrawing from public school, will be providing homeschooling and submitting a curriculum for the district’s review/approval. Districts are then required to contact with the parents of the withdrawn student with IEP services to determine the acceptance of special educations services. Annual review dates and the process for evaluations continue to be a requirement. IEP services, will be offered, however the schedule can sometimes be cumbersome. Working with your service providers to create a schedule that works for your child and their availability is key. If services are to be provided in person, you as the parent, will be responsible for the transportation to and from the school. With schools now much more adapt at remote learning, that may be an option to explore.
If this is all too overwhelming or you want the support of advocate, give us a call. We’re here to help.