A Message from Attorney Lawrence Berliner on COVID-19 and Special Education Services

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A Message from Attorney Lawrence Berliner:
                                
Many of my clients are asking me what they should do during the period of time when their child's school is closed due to this health emergency. The first thing is not to panic and become frustrated since all of us, including your child's school and/or school district, are dealing with an unprecedented set of facts and circumstances. The present situation requires patience, flexibility, and creativity. We are all in this together, and we will get through this, together.

Check with your child's school's website for any updated information, confer with your medical professionals for advice, and review the information that is available on the various websites such as the U.S. Department of Education (ed.gov), Connecticut Department of Education (ct.gov), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Many public and private organizations are now offering an ever expanding array of on-line services to compliment on-line instruction, providing virtual tours of museums or libraries, providing games and other forms of entertainment, and offering counseling and support services, to name a few areas.

Since the declaration of a health emergency, Governor Lamont has ordered the closing of our public schools and private special education schools. Our schools are now providing on-line or distance learning opportunities in lieu of direct classroom instruction. On-line instruction is supposed to accessible to children with disabilities, provide children with equal educational opportunities, and such instruction should be meeting the child's unique needs as outlined in their IEP. However, there are some practical and functional limits to on-line or distance learning, especially with the provision of related services. As a result, your child may not be receiving all of the academic instruction and/or related services contained in their IEP. If your child is unable access his or her on-line instruction, or the on-line instruction is not appropriate for your child's induvial special education needs, then you should confer with your child's teachers and school administrators in an attempt to resolve your concerns. If necessary, you can request a PPT meeting to formally review your concerns and consider revisions the program of on-line instruction. Your child's special education rights and the Procedural Safeguards,  have not been suspended during this health emergency.

Important Note: If your child is not receiving all the instructional and related service hours specified in their IEP, then you should keep track of the missing services, since this information may be useful later on. Your child may be entitled to receive compensatory educational services when the school reopens, however, you will need a written record of the IEP services and hours of instruction that were not provided during the period of time when your child's school was closed and on-line instruction was provided.

I will be ready to help you address your child's individual special education needs once this health emergency is over, our schools are reopened, and there is a resumption of classroom instruction.
In the meantime, I will do my best to be proactive, address your questions and concerns, and keep you informed as we learn to deal with this ever-changing situation, by posting of up-to-date information on my website and/or on Facebook. I look forward to being responsive to your individual needs via email (lwb [dot] esq [at] gmail [dot] com), telephone (1-203-255-0582), or video conferencing.

I will stay focused and devoted as I always have by advocating for the rights of children with special needs and their families, one family at a time.

I hope you and your family will remain healthy and safe during this health emergency.

Lawrence Berliner


   April 2, 2020