What a roller coaster it has been the last several months! With COVID-19, schools being closed, therapies often being closed... It has been a whirlwind year for sure! Hopefully by now things are starting to get settled into a routine for your family, even if they still won't be back to normal for awhile.
Today, I wanted to talk a bit about how to get compensatory education because of the pandemic.
First and foremost: If you want to get compensatory services, keep your child enrolled! I kept Chelsea enrolled even though she wasn't doing any "school" from the district except a brief 10 minute visit with her classmates to say hi each day. I let the school know that I received their offer of virtual education, but since it was not an appropriate option for Chelsea, that I would let all of her compensatory education minutes accrue.
Here is why I say don't withdraw them unless you intend to go full homeschool for an extended period of time: If you reenroll your child later on, any regression during this time period will be placed squarely on you. The school will say it is 100% your fault (in nicer words, I am sure) and that your child won't get any "extra" services.
So, what is compensatory education?
Basically, this is to "make up" for lost services/ time. This could look like:
- A social skills summer camp
- X amount of hours for selected therapy during the school year, after school hours, extra time during the summer, etc.
- Reimbursement for educational expenses (keep receipts!)
- An extended period of time in special education for persons aging out during the pandemic
How do I get compensatory education?
1. Call an IEP meeting. As the parent, you can call one anytime you want
2. During this meeting, request it. Schools are actually pretty good about offering it, in my experience.
3. If they say no to compensatory services, don't worry about making a lengthy, detailed argument. Just say "I understand your position, but please document that I am disagreeing and will not agree at the end of this IEP meeting". This forces the school to reconvene the meeting within 10 days.
4. If after a couple meetings, they are still holding ground, you can send a letter to your state board of education. Check out any parent advocacy group local to your state, they will often have a template for writing up a complaint. (hint: any clear-cut violation of special education will get resolved STAT when a complaint is filed, but then the team will be very wary of you)
Any complaint and requested compensatory education has a statute of limitations on it. Plain English- you have one year from the beginning of the complaint to get this requested/ taken care of before the complaint will "expire".
Did You Know??
The idea of compensatory education is actually not from the IDEA special education law! It is all based off of case law. So if you go into a meeting and can rattle off a couple tidbits from the 2003 G vs. Fort Bragg Schools, chances increase that your IEP team may give you what you want or wet their pants.