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How the pandemic impacted compensatory education for students with disabilities

| Jun 14, 2021 | Special Education Law |

Parents and K-12 students have had a long 15 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students with individual education plans (IEPs) relied on remote learning for significant amounts of time.  Other changes that school districts were forced to make may have negatively impacted their learning as well.  Unfortunately, for many students with special needs, the instruction that they received during the pandemic didn’t provide them with a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Compensatory education may be necessary to remedy the denial of FAPE.

What is compensatory education?

In the context of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), compensatory education is intended to remedy a denial of FAPE.  Compensatory education can include both academic instruction and related services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral support, etc.  In general, compensatory education should put the student in the position they would have been in had FAPE been provided.

Delivery of compensatory education can take many forms.  A few examples are:

  • Instruction/services provided to the student by school district staff that are above and beyond what the student would normally receive as part of their IEP.
  • Payment from the school district to the student’s parents for costs related to private instruction/services.

Important things to know about compensatory education

  • There are many factors that can affect how much and what type of compensatory education a school district must provide to a student.
  • In some cases, a school district may ask the parents to agree to a waiver of claims before the school district provides compensatory education. A waiver of claims is often included as part of a settlement agreement.  It can be very important for parents to fully understand a document that they plan to sign.

It may be helpful to consult with an attorney who understands education law if you believe that compensatory education is necessary to help your child.  Compensatory education can be crucial to enabling a student with disabilities to meet their goals.