How Parents Can Document Missed or Ineffective Special Education Services during COVID-19 for NYC IEPs: A Parent Statement Template

Photo by lucas law on Unsplash

By Rachel Ford, Amber Decker, and Jenn Choi of Special Support Services

Directions:

  1. This is a statement you can use to describe how your child did not receive effective special education during the pandemic. This is not a statement to guide you on what your child should be receiving as makeup or compensatory services*. You will still have to think of that when the time comes and advocate that for your child. (Numbers 5 and 6 in your statement will discuss it very briefly) More importantly, by now, we hope you have logged how your child has not made progress, written down dates, and kept the information aside in a safe place. If not, do that first, it’s never too late.
  2. Copy-paste the information below the line onto a new document and fill out the blanks. You can access this article in a google doc here.
  3. Delete the parts that do not apply to your child.
  4. Sign the document
  5. Convert the document into a PDF.
  6. Email to your School-Based Support Team (the people in school that handle your IEP meetings such as your School Psychologist) or to the Committee for Special Education (CSE) with the document attached.
  7. Request receipt of confirmation of your Parent Statement
  8. Ask when you will have an IEP meeting or Waiver Amendment to place this statement into your IEP.
  9. If you believe that things are not going well right now, you can have an IEP meeting to discuss what changes can be done right now. However, the discussion for compensatory services may take place once school becomes more normal.
  10. At a minimum, you can expect that the existence of your statement is described in the Present Levels section of the IEP. You can ask for the parent statement to be placed verbatim into the Parent Concerns section of the IEP (usually the 2nd to last page of the IEP). You want your whole statement somewhere in the IEP. No summaries.
  11. If you run into trouble attempting to do this. Remember you are merely following guidance from the NYC DOE. You can complain by calling 718–935–2007 and writing to SpecialEducation@Schools.NYC.gov
  12. Make sure you receive a copy of the new IEP that includes your Parent Statement

— — — — — — — document begins here

Student Name:
Student DOB:
Student OSIS #:
Today’s Date:

Parent Statement Regarding Lack of Access to the Curriculum During the Pandemic

I am making a request to the IEP Team as per the NYC DOE guidance Frequently Asked Questions: IEP Meeting Procedures During Blended/Remote Learning — 12.09.2020to include my concerns in the IEP. In this statement, I am describing my child did not have appropriate access to the curriculum during the pandemic.

  1. For my child, the school building was not accessible due to issues created by the pandemic. My child struggles to make appropriate progress when not being educated in the school building. My child was not able to attend in-person learning for ____ days so far. Note to parent: Use #1 if remote learning was insufficient for your child. To count how many days your child was not able to have an effective day of school, look at some of these dates below to help you count. Even if you chose fully remote learning, you can still voice your concern here. Please consider those days to be insufficient if you found remote learning to be lacking and ineffective for your child with an IEP.
  • March 16–20, 2020 school buildings were closed.
  • Virtual learning began on March 23, 2020 and continued until June 26, 2020.
  • September 16–18, 2020 Remote Learning Orientation period.
  • On September 21, 2020 virtual learning began.
  • Sept 26, 2020, beginning of in-person learning for K-5 students. ( FYI: September 21, 2020 — first day of in-person school for 3K, PK and D75 students only. Remote school started for K-12. September 29, 2020 — First day of in-person school for elementary and PK-8 schools. October 1, 2020 — First day of in-person school for middle and high school students.)
  • Remember all the days your school closed because of cases found.

2. The instructional services provided to my child can be described to be ineffective in the following ways:

  1. Lack of in-person instruction due to school closures
  2. Lack of access to ICT co-teachers especially special education teachers throughout the day on remote learning days
  3. Lack of access to special education teachers during in-person days
  4. Lack of small group and individual instruction during remote learning
  5. Dependency on student to make curriculum accessible to the student (ie. my child is unable to discern the need for and independently attend office hours)
  6. Inability to sufficiently check that my child understood the lesson
  7. Lack of stable routine including switching from remote to in-person. Not being able to transition to different classes without a school bell or other student models to follow
  8. Lack of access to my child’s 1:1 IEP-assigned paraprofessional as my child only saw her ____ minutes per day on remote learning days
  9. Dependency on my child to work independently when he/she/they just couldn’t
  10. Inefficient use of the Google Classroom system on the student’s part (such as marking things done when they were not)
  11. Lack of feedback on remote learning days on his/her/their work
  12. My child did not receive ____ sessions of speech/counseling/PT/OT_ from Month, 2020 to Month, 2020. This totals: ______
  13. My child’s related services were scheduled during live instruction
  14. My child was overwhelmed as he/she/they did not have any time to eat lunch peacefully during the school day. This affected my child's ability to make appropriate progress during the school day.
  15. My child could not attend to all of his remote synchronous instruction. He needed more breaks in between
  16. No Remote Learning Plan was provided to my child in Spring of 2020.
  17. No Programs Adaptations Document (PAD) and PAD meeting was provided to me during SY 2020–2021
  18. No Related Services Adaptations Document (RAD) was provided to my child.
  19. No progress reports for goals were provided to me

3. There have been changes in my child’s educational progress and achievement, including progress toward meeting his/her IEP goals, and ability to participate in the general education curriculum. These changes are:

  1. My child cannot work independently for more than ____ minutes
  2. My child social skills have declined- now he/she/they can not ____ anymore
  3. My child needs so much support to do work. It takes ____ hours to do what should be ____ minutes of work.
  4. My child’s reading level is now at _____ Prior to the pandemic, my child’s reading level was _______
  5. My child can not do grade-level math unless I ____
  6. Write other ways that you know school is not working out for your child and that your child is not making progress. You should look at the IEP goals too. Is your child making progress toward those goals? If not, write down why you think so. Look at their schoolwork.

4 . There are indications that my child has regressed during the pandemic. My child has regressed in the areas of reading, writing, language, social, physical, and executive functioning skills during this period of learning from March 2020 to now.

5. I believe that my child will require extended school year services (ESY) due to regression.

6. I believe that the changes in school due to COVID-19 results in new needs for my child including

  1. Emotional support services
  2. Academic support services
  3. Medical support services
  4. Executive Functioning Support Services
  5. Related Services (Hearing, Speech, OT….)

This is the end of my statement. Please upload this document to SESIS and include it verbatim in the appropriate sections of my child’s IEP. I do not give permission for this document to be summarized or abbreviated.

Sincerely,

YOUR signature here

Parent Name

end of document — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

*Note the difference in words: Generally, Makeup Services means getting services that were missed. (ie. no OT for x months) Compensatory Services are provided to address the needs of the child because services provided were inappropriate/ineffective/missing. They are given to address the problems caused by this and to help the child make more appropriate progress.

References for Learning Why It’s Okay to Do This Even if Your School is Confused by Your Statement-

Go ahead and share these references with them:

NYC DOE Reference: “Frequently Asked Questions: IEP Meeting Procedures During Blended/Remote Learning — 12.09.2020” UFT Link and NYC DOE Link to document

What if the parent is seeking compensatory services for missed instruction or services during the SY19–20 or SY20–21 period of remote and/or blended learning?

If a parent makes a request to the school/CSE for make-up (or “compensatory”) services or instruction for missed or allegedly ineffective services provided through remote and/or blended learning, the school/CSE should inquire whether the parent believes the currently recommended programs/services continue to be appropriate and should consider whether a requested IEP meeting is required before the next annual review IEP meeting.

If at the annual or requested review IEP meeting, the parent raises a request for make-up (or “compensatory”) services (for any part of the period of remote learning between March 2020 and present), the IEP team must document the request in the Present Levels of Performance section of the IEP. The parent should be informed that student needs will continue to be assessed, and after return to a typical learning environment, options for services to account for any long-term impacts of missed or ineffective instruction/services during the pandemic will be discussed and explored. Note that the IEP team must also consider and document the parent’s concerns regarding access to or the effectiveness of programs/services during blended/remote learning.

NYSED Reference

Supplement #2 — Provision of Services to Students With Disabilities During Statewide School Closures Due to Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak in New York State (June 20, 2020)

Planning for the Provision of Services for the 2020–21 School Year

Following school closures due to COVID-19, Committees on Preschool Special Education and Committees on Special Education (hereinafter referred to as Committee) will need to consider newly identified needs when determining the appropriate special programs and services to be recommended for the 2020–21 school year. Committees may consider some or all of the following questions in their decision-making process (Adapted, from LRP Publications, “Serving a student after a COVID-19-related school closure: questions the individualized education program (IEP) team should ask,” March 24, 2020):

  • How long was the student’s school closed?
  • Was the student provided instruction or services via an alternative method (e.g. online math instruction, online speech therapy, or instruction provided telephonically) during the closure? To what extent?
  • Were alternative methods of instruction (continuity of learning) and services provided to the student beneficial for the student? Was the student engaged and able to access the instruction and services?
  • Is there clear documentation of the amount of instruction and services the student was provided during the closure (including dates, times, and duration)? If so, what amount of instruction and services did the student receive?
  • Have there been changes in the student’s educational progress and achievement, including progress toward meeting his/her IEP goals, and ability to participate in the general education curriculum? What are those changes?
  • Are there indications that the student regressed during the closure? Has the student lost any specific skills?
  • Is there a possibility that the student will require extended school year services due to regression?
  • Did school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic result in any new needs for the student (e.g. emotional, medical, academic) such that the student should be provided with additional special education or related services or be reevaluated?

Utilizing the following information derived from these questions, the 2020–21 school year recommendations for appropriate special education programs and services for each student with a disability must be informed by the following Committee considerations:

  • Extended School Year (ESY) Services;
  • Revisions to the IEP to ensure the continued provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) due to the student’s changing needs; and
  • Compensatory Services.

Lastly, we strongly recommend that you read our article about how to document the data to help prove that your child is struggling. That information and more can be found in this article.

This information is brought to you by Special Support Services, LLC, a Brooklyn-based group of 3 advocates, Rachel Ford, Amber Decker, and Jennifer Choi, whose main objective is to support parents of students with disabilities through the complex special education process in New York City. The three advocates who are all parents of students with disabilities endeavored to assess the special education crisis in New York City during the pandemic by working with parent volunteers to write, translate, and distribute the 42 question survey across all boroughs in four languages. The data was used to issue their report, ​Spread Thin: Survey Reveals Students Without Special Education Instruction.

Parent Advocate supporting families navigate the special education process, AT coach, http://specialsupportservices.com @ToysAsTools

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