Let's Talk Sped Law

Episode 7: Can't Be Wrong When It's Wright - Pam & Pete Wright Discuss Strategies For Parents During School Closures In Response to COVID-19.

May 26, 2020 Let's Talk Sped Law by Special Education Attorney, Jeffrey L. Forte, Esq. Season 1 Episode 7
Let's Talk Sped Law
Episode 7: Can't Be Wrong When It's Wright - Pam & Pete Wright Discuss Strategies For Parents During School Closures In Response to COVID-19.
Chapters
Let's Talk Sped Law
Episode 7: Can't Be Wrong When It's Wright - Pam & Pete Wright Discuss Strategies For Parents During School Closures In Response to COVID-19.
May 26, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Let's Talk Sped Law by Special Education Attorney, Jeffrey L. Forte, Esq.

Show Notes Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the podcast. Let's talk sped law, a podcast dedicated to discussing special education rights of children with disabilities. Am your host and special education attorney Jeff forte. Now let's talk Spanish

Speaker 2:

law . Hi everyone. Attorney Jeff forte here now with another podcast episode of let's talk sped law. What Pam and Pete Wright have to say about the current school closures as a result of the [inaudible] crisis. Um, I'm very honored to have both Pete and Pam, right as special guests on this episode of the , uh, of my podcast. Let's talk sped law. Obviously everyone knows , uh, Pete and Pam, right . And my introduction of them is certainly not going to do them any justice, but , um, Pete Wright is an attorney who represents children with special education needs. He is one of a select few of parents , special education lawyers who gave oral argument before the U S Supreme court in 1993 in the Seminole U S Supreme court case, Florence County school district four versus Shannon Carter and one Pete also has trained over 200 employees and staff attorneys for the office of civil rights. And Pete and Pam, his wife are the coauthors of a plethora of special education law books out there written in layman's terms for parents as well as attorneys and advocates. Um, special education law , uh, rights law, no child left behind. Rights law, Ida 2004. Rights law from emotions to advocacy rights law, all about IDPs and rights law, all about tests and assessments. Um, along with Pete is his wife as well. Pam Wright , who also is the coauthor of all the books that I've just mentioned. Pam has her master's degree in both psychology and in social work and since the 1970s has been working with families and children of special needs. Both Pete and Pam are also adjunct professors at the law school of William and Mary where they teach courses on special education law and advocacy through the law school special education law clinic, which is where I had the pleasure of first meeting , uh , both Pete and Pam. And of course they are the authors and founders of the number one website in the U S for parents of children with disabilities rights law.com. Um, like I said, I'm probably not doing your justice, but Pete and Pam, welcome to the podcast. Let's talk sped LOBs . So happy to have you guys here.

Speaker 3:

Well, Jeff, it's a real pleasure to be here and in preparation for today's podcast with you, I listened to all of the ones you have done before and I was in all, well , you know that, I shared that with you. I said my gosh, this is really professional and , and uh , very impressive. So w we both thank you for having us here today.

Speaker 4:

Thank you Jeffrey.

Speaker 2:

Well, thank you. Thank you guys. You know , um , we're now let's talk. Sped law is almost in all 50 States now and , uh, I thought it would be a great opportunity to further echo everything that you've been doing , um, on your website to , uh , the audience of , uh , let's talk sped loss. So right now , uh, we are in , um, uh, late May, 2020 and we have the school closures across the country because of the , uh, Covin virus. And you know, I wanted to get your input. Um, Pete and Pam on a couple of important questions that parents across the country are still trying to deal with. Um, now for parents that don't know in, in March of this year, March 21st the us department of education issued some guidance as to educating children during the school closure time period to the greatest extent possible. Now districts are interpreting quote to the greatest extent possible in very different ways. Uh, well let's start with you Pam. What are you seeing across the country from state to state with the involvements that you're having with families as to what this guidance means and in your opinion, what is to the greatest extent possible? What should we be expecting of our schools during this time?

Speaker 4:

That's, that's a , that's a very good question. I , and I think it's almost unanswerable right now. We are, no, to my knowledge, no one, no state has absolutely said they are going to open on a particular date there . They're discussing whether they should start early, whether they should go through the summer, whether they should implement a year round schooling plan and until they actually discuss when they are going to open any , come up with a date. Even though that may change given circumstances, it's very hard to say maximum extent except to say that I think there are methods and means that school districts could be using and aren't using to provide services and children's IDPs and to do evaluations. So I think there's a failure there to actually implement current technology.

Speaker 2:

So do you think that um, to the greatest extent possible should include having IEP meetings, for example, during the school closure time period? Should districts be obligated to be holding their annual IEP meetings, for example?

Speaker 4:

I think so.

Speaker 3:

I agree. Yeah. Um, yeah , look at what all of America is doing now with regard to zoom and the other similar video chats with their family members. We have seen , uh , an incredible , uh , surge in , in that direction just from social , uh, dynamics of families. And if you can do it with your families, you know, the technology is certainly there to be able to do it with the IEP meetings if the parents of the child have the ability to access the internet and have that type of, of uh , equipment and software. But some school districts are providing your students with Chromebooks and other kinds of hardware in addition to ensuring that they have the internet access. So , uh, I think it's doable.

Speaker 4:

I think, I think the answer that probably is, it depends on what that in some areas, very few or say 2020 5% of kids don't have internet access, don't have a Chromebook. So, or if there's internet access is very weak. But I think in general, schools could definitely start that process and, and began and should have begun that process before now and more in some areas. Uh, I've been in contact with people from Connecticut up in the Northeastern part of the country and there seems to be more going on up in your neck of the woods than down here in Virginia and further South.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. In , in Connecticut. We're , we're definitely, we definitely have the finger on the pulse with this. One thing that we're noticing though is that from district to district, this guidance is being interpreted differently. Um, and the state has yet to really provide what they believe should be the appropriate footprint on how to implement it. Um, we are seeing a significant , um , difference though within the inner cities and if we scale that out across the entire us, there's genuine inequities I think on how this is being delivered with fidelity across , uh, socioeconomic populations.

Speaker 4:

It's a mess. Yeah, I agree. It's a mess.

Speaker 3:

It did . It's just all over the place.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. The , um , I was reading some things about how schools, how to think about reopening, what types of plans of the leaders, education leaders have proposed and everything they come up with is going to be not good for one group or another. So if you have a woman in schooling, you have , uh , parents who want their kids to pursue other things in the summer and more middle class parents. Uh, there's just, there's going to have to be a lot more individualizing of instruction that has been the case and bring Islam

Speaker 3:

and , and we're, we're hearing , uh, such a credible range and variety. Some school districts are absolutely hitting the ball out of the park, doing an incredible job with this and some others. Uh, and, and uh, some in the very fluid areas where you would think they would not have issues are just dropping the ball right and left. And so it's kind of surprising what we're saying. W w it's pretty neat seeing what some of the districts are doing and how they are engaging the children and, and the, the parents , uh , in the whole process.

Speaker 2:

So before we get to the really important topic of, you know , how are we going to reopen our schools? Um, one thing that we've been working on here in Connecticut is trying to help parents collect data on what they're seeing , um, in their child's day to day. Cause what are the actual, I think positives out of this entire mess is that parents actually now more than ever, we'll have more of a profound understanding of their child's strengths and weaknesses. And how does a parent best capture those strengths and weaknesses during this time period. So when they go back, when their child does go back to school, they can evidence some type of data. Um, we've actually come up with some data collection sheets of our own here in Connecticut to have parents use. Have you, have you seen this kind of movement across the country where , uh, districts are open to receiving data input from what parents are observing at home? Or are they not open to that?

Speaker 4:

Uh , I think you're gonna you're saying in Connecticut they're open, but the States that's not on the table. Although I've been encouraging parents from the beginning to keep a log, keep a method of just logging in. What happens each day? It doesn't have to be like they , what can be lengthy if there's an incident that is eliminating but, but keep record of what is happening, what they're getting from the school, what the child is getting, what the response is when they've contacted, have they had requested a meeting, have as the school responded a of, I put up a question on Facebook about three or four weeks ago about what is going on and just was flooded with hundreds of very detailed descriptions of what people are experiencing. And it is wildly different. And I say it's a pretty good representative sample of , of at least people who go on Facebook and have internet and do that. Right?

Speaker 3:

Yeah . I think was one of the big issues Jeff is going to be what, where was the child before Kobe kicked in? Where's the child now? Where's the child three months from now in terms of reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, speech, language skills, the basic skills that enable you to make it in society down the road in the future. And uh , I encourage parents who have, who have video of their child beforehand to do video. Now having your child read stuff out loud, do they understand it? But we'll have video recording of it to be able to show down the road what , what was going on, what does a child need more working , where has the child regressed if the child has regressed or progressed? And that can end up becoming data of sorts . There are also resources online to be able to check some of those measures, some of the reading, writing, spelling kinds of, of uh , scores because we have to be able to show what the kid's going to need when we come up with , with a new IEP, so to speak, or revised IEP, we've got to take into account what, what has been lost, what's, what's happened with this passage as time. And we're going to have to have data to do that. There's going to have to be , uh , educational testing done before being able to come up with good prescriptive IEP , uh , for the children. Uh, as we get through this whole Qubit issue.

Speaker 2:

So you mentioned, you mentioned present levels of performance and that's such a crucial thing. Um, you know, as far as like a timeline goes, we obviously have the pre Corona IEP based present levels of performance while the child was in school. And when we get back into school, whenever that may be, which we'll talk about. How do you think we should, as , as parents of children with disabilities in school districts systemically on a scalable basis, determine what these kids , uh, present levels or performance are now? I mean , um , I, you know, for example, I've talked with some districts who proactively are trying to forecast this flood of evaluations and assessments and consults and, you know, baseline anecdotal observations. Um, what are your thoughts on how we could scale this out to get each kid , um, present levels of performance when we get back to school to determine whether or not they're at the status quo, advanced or, or behind?

Speaker 3:

I think the schools are going to be overwhelmed with the need to do comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations or choking to come up with decent quality , uh , present levels of performance. And what are the educational needs of the child for the future, which is , is, is a issue. And so they're not gonna be able to do it themselves along . They, I would think that they're going to have to contract outside in the private sector with many others , uh , psychologist , educational evaluators to assist in the process of getting the data because it's going to be such a need. Such a groundswell of need going on and beyond me is how school districts with the present staffing , uh , before Kobe back in, let's say February could, could handle any surge like that and now it's going to be much, much worse. But there are individuals out there who have the ability to do his testing and , um, I think it's time for them to , to, to tap on the private sector to come to step up and help them.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. There's also , um, there are companies that do evaluation, psychoeducational evaluation, speech language evaluations, and they do it with, with their platform

Speaker 3:

remotely online.

Speaker 4:

And , um , so I've done, I spent a fair amount of time on some of the websites and , and gone through and taken , uh , whether it are and how this actually works. So I think that would be a possibility. I think there's no way there's been a school psychologist shortage or at least 20 years now and it's getting worse and worse and worse. So there's no way that the current number of school psychologist can really do more than they were probably doing before. And essentially all these kids are going to need to be reassessed in terms of their levels. The, the , uh, this is, this is interesting. The Texas educational agency tea has been publishing documents along these lines about , um , present levels, compensatory ed, and they've been, they've really been ahead of most school systems and I've been very impressed by what they've done since they're the, you know, the 7% people from previous, but they are talking about progress monitoring by the teachers and parents and work samples and teacher observations and progress monitoring collected by parents during at-home learning. And then they talk about the need for a formal re-evaluation needs to be considered if it would yield missing data on the current performance level. And that's the guidance that the state is giving to the school districts down in Texas. Now that's very different from what's going on. For example in Virginia.

Speaker 3:

So bottom line, there's an awful lot of good quality resource resource information on the Texas education , uh, agency's website. And uh, and that's one of the school districts that has school districts, one of the States that has really stepped up to the flight and gone far beyond where our many thought they would go. Uh , a few years ago they were considered to be one of the worst in the country because of this per cap they had on numbers of kids being eligible and the fed slammed them and it took a bunch of money away and now they've got 180 degree shift and it's been very impressive to see other position . And Pam mentioned the compensatory ed. There are going to be a couple of issues keep popping up regularly. Um , is my child gonna need ESY extended school year , uh, is my child would be entitled to compensatory ed? Well compesatory at the history of it and our website, we have a whole webpage that I just put up a couple of weeks ago about competitor, a law of compensatory ed trends , a case law because compensatory ed is not something that's in the statute or in the regs. It's um , on our , uh, it's, it's case law generated by judges. Pam, what , what um ,

Speaker 4:

correct.

Speaker 3:

Uh, and, and so w with regard to the compensatory ed, it used to be school districts had to have dropped the ball egregiously before a child was entitled to confess to her . Yet case law has totally shifted away from that. Now, if the child didn't receive FAPE , then there isn't entitled with the compensatory yet. And the mindset has been, didn't receive fate because the school system dropped the ball. Well, you know, maybe the kid didn't receive, they unrelated to the school system, but because of this , their virus has kicked in and school is having to be closed. So it's not necessarily a fault of a school district, but why the kid needs compensatory yet . So that's another issue that I think that has to be considered.

Speaker 4:

Well, as I say, Texas is talking about compensatory and as a way to mitigate damage, the impact of the loss of skills or learning that would have occurred during the month if the child is out. And is it a punitive approach? It's simply mitigation for a problem that is no one, there's no one to blame for it. It just needs to be dealt,

Speaker 3:

but the kid needs it, right ? We don't want to necessarily be pointing fingers or blaming the school district, but just looking at the kids' educational needs. And that's what the , uh , 14, 14 evaluation factors all about. Looking at what are the kids' educational needs, not why it gets as needs .

Speaker 4:

Right. And you know, it's interesting because in the March 21 guidance , uh,

Speaker 2:

the us department of ed actually States in here , uh, the mention of combat, it says, and , and question and question and answer a one which I'll put on the blog. Uh, the department, meaning the department of ed for the United States, understand there may be exceptional circumstances that could affect how our particular services provided an IEP team. In addition, an IEP team and as appropriate to the individual with the disability, the personnel responsible for ensuring FAPE would be required to make an individualized determination as to whether compensatory services are needed under applicable standards and requirements. You know, when I read this, it sounds like the, this guidance kind of opened up and expanded the understanding of combat because, you know, traditionally you're right, it, it was kind of viewed as this, well, the district dropped the ball. The district was somewhat negligent, whether intentionally or not. So therefore we need to , uh, you know, make this child whole again by providing relief as a means of a remedy with, with education hours. But the guidance is, it says otherwise it's sounding like the guidance is , is understanding that compensatory education may be used, but we're not delivering it in a way to address any punitive , um, issue. And that's , that sounds exactly what, what you're, what you're saying and what Texas is actually steering the , um , you know , language with is that, is that right?

Speaker 3:

Uh , and that's, that's my , uh, view it, it's not that the school district dropped the ball and failed to provide faith. They couldn't provide faith. They were unable to because if Kobe , but the kids still needs compensatory yet.

Speaker 2:

Right, right. So let's talk about, you know, ESY. Um, what are you seeing for extended school year? What are you seeing across the country? Are schools opening up for ESY? Are they still going to be delivering a distance learning plan? Is it a hybrid of the two? What, what have you been seeing?

Speaker 4:

I have been seeing nothing. I haven't done a survey of every, you know, state, I might do that in a newsletter. It's slow death . Yeah. I, nothing is going on. As far as I know in Virginia , uh, Virginia has relied almost exclusively on, you know , packets of information or, or distance learning for even kindergarten kids. And you just can't do it that way. You know, with no, nobody there to redirect them. You put the five-year-olds in front of a screen, it's just not gonna not gonna work. Right . So , um ,

Speaker 3:

but I think that ESY is gonna definitely be needed. It's going to be very similar and almost maybe merged with compensatory ed in a sense. Uh,

Speaker 4:

well they say that the ESY is to prevent the loss of skills. So it's a severe substantial loss of skills or learning when school is out of session , whereas compensatory is to provide services that are needed to make up for services. So, so how people sort that out is going to be interesting. Uh, it seems to be a distinction that some people have difficulty really getting that that ESY really is , should be considered for most kids with disabilities, probably all kids. And yes. And then IEP teams are still saying, Oh, that's only for children with cognitive impairments or the most severe cognitive is still seeing that , that category discussion. No, no, no , no. Your child isn't eligible for that.

Speaker 3:

And that's totally incorrect. We hear that from time to time. Parents telling us their school district said yes, why is only available for a child with this particular kind of display that is not true? Is nowhere in the statute or in the case law does it say that? And the issue with ESY is regression and recruitment. Uh, how much has a kid regressed over the summer vacation? How long does it take for the kid to recoup the loss skills while here, you know, we've basically had an a in many instances, quasi extended summer vacations towards where kids have not been in regular school at all. And so I think that ESY is going to be something that's going to have to be out there for so many kids. And the question really goes to, well , what is going to be the school year now? Is the school year going to be traditionally from , from the , uh , latter part of August through may or June or are we going to have schools now , uh, working during the summer time ? And , uh, I certainly have seen some talk about schools doing that then . I don't know that we , uh, I think the coven may get us away from the traditional school year mindset , uh , at times. So , uh , that's one of the future impacts I think of of Kobe and also more , uh , a distant kind of learning even with regular public schools.

Speaker 2:

You know, in Connecticut, we just recently received guidance on the standard for ESY and um, it's not good. I don't like it at all. One of the things that it says is that an IEP team when making the determination for ESY eligibility are only to look at the , um, student's progress from the beginning of the school year till through March. So they can't take into consideration anything during the school closure. And that, that seems to be the complete opposite guidance of what they should be doing. They should be looking at what is, where is the child right now and have they regressed now so they can try to recoup some of it in the summer.

Speaker 3:

Right. But you see a Jeffrey , that was something that was issued by the state department of education. It's not a statute, it's not a regulation. It's not a legal decision from the us district court or the us court of appeals. So it is nothing more than one bureaucrats mindset as to what it should be. And you know, a judge's mindset may be quite different. And I think we have to be, we can't let ourselves get caught up into the box while he said that's the way it is. That's the way it has to be. That's not true.

Speaker 2:

Good point. Good point. Pete. So what have you heard about school district models? Uh, for the fall? I mean it in Connecticut, we, there are, I serve on this committee, a reopening school committee , um, that , uh, I was appointed through the commissioner for the department of ed and there's kind of three working models so to speak. And nothing's definite yet. So for the audience members in Connecticut, this is, this is just a draft, this is not definite, but one of them is where you would take half of the students in a particular grade and divide it up into two where half the class would go to school on Mondays and Wednesdays full day, six feet apart and everything. So you're reducing the number of people in the school and then the other half would go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays would alternate , um, with, with, with the, with the understanding that then families , parents can go back and we can kind of get the economy going cause they can at least go back to work two days a week. Um, yeah . Have you heard about anything like that?

Speaker 4:

I have, yes. Um, there are so many things on the table in different States and different, different , um, cities . Miami , uh, wants to extend the school into summer. In other words, start essentially in this, in the summer and that and then later in the summer and then start earlier in the fall. But, but maybe that's only for some students, like kids with disabilities disadvantage kids. Cleveland wants to reduce the curriculum to core subjects so they don't have to cover as much of the, you know, substance abuse or sex education or whatever. The things that have been added on over the years to just reduce a curriculum to core academic subjects. Some people have had proposed a half grade step up for students that they would just automatically assume that a third grader is now a 3.5 grade four and then, and then try to make it up. So the kid, but then, and then other people had just rec recommended retaining whole bunches of kids. But you can't do that whole across the board though because some kids or families can supplement during this time and ours are supplementing. So those kids are going to be in pretty good shape when they return. So, so this is really a case where one side doesn't fit all four sides , it's going to require a lot more thinking about individualizing instruction than is typically been the case historically.

Speaker 2:

Right, right. Uh, you know, it , it, it's remarkable the number of ideas that are coming out of this. Um, and I think it's important that districts continue to be creative in how they're going to educate. Uh , w w another model that I've found is a proposal is where you would take half of the kids for half of the day. So you'd have kids coming in in the morning and then they'd go home at lunch with a box lunch. And then meanwhile the kids that are , um , leaving, you're going to have the other half come in in the afternoon. So then at least we're getting full week, half day programs going on instead of just two days a week where we're getting the instructions repeated for half the class. Um, and then the last model is where we just continue distance learning completely, which, which is also, you know, another model. Um, w what are your thoughts? I mean, if you were to, if you were to be put in charge of a school district, right? Pam and Pam and Pete, right ? University, you know, school districts of Virginia, you know , uh, where, where, where Pam, you're the school psychologist and Pete, you're the, you're the superintendent. Right? What, what would you w what do you think should be the , uh, the guiding principles, I guess for, for reopening?

Speaker 4:

I actually, I actually experienced a door B or door two in that , uh, I lived in a County that was experiencing very rapid growth in the fifties and sixties and so they couldn't , schools couldn't keep up. So they split us into two groups and there was a morning group and an afternoon group and, and the instruction did focus primarily on your core academic subjects. And it made for a long day for the teachers, but it had to be done. So it was done. And I spent a year, I think I was the morning group and I've always not been a morning person, but you can get quite a bit into for say four hours of if you're efficient and not wasting a lot of time in the classroom. You can get stuff taught in four hours. Right . Reading and kind of stuff. So I think, and that, that also provides the structure rather than you're going to school two days out of seven. I think kids need most kids really benefit by that structure. So, and I don't remember, I remember feeling a little put upon but, but you know , it was like in the 10th grade or something. So in 10th grade you do feel put upon when anybody forces something on you . But yeah, that, that worked pretty well.

Speaker 3:

Jeff, you , you said if I was a superintendent, well , uh, I would , um, be out of my comfort zone and uh, would know to, to, to , to not get out of my lane. I would look to history in the past, what, before Kobe last fall and even several years before then we have had charter schools that are online, virtual schools. We have had education where , uh, it's the kids are home doing virtual charter school and I would find out which ones have been doing the best job, what schools have , have, have , have, you know, some of them have fallen by the wayside and just been ripoffs financial ripoffs from parents and, and committed fraud on parents. But some of them have done really good jobs that I've had , have been hearing about them from time to time and had parents ask me about this and about that. And, and I really kind of wonder how could I , how could a charter virtual Academy , uh, operate and for the kids really to learn good content stuff. And I did have experience many, many years ago back in the seventies with a child that got pregnant when she was in high school and they did not allow children to be pregnant in high school. And she got kicked out of school when he came to see me about suing the school and everything. And we ended up getting her enrolled into a , uh , it was a Calvert school online correspondence program used for people who were sailing around the world for the kids. She ended up graduating , um, uh, ahead of her class. She got so engrossed in it and move so quickly through all the content areas and got all the Carnegie units and everything. And I think back to her , uh, regularly. And then the virtual , uh , charter online schools. So I would find out who those people are who have risen up to the top and I would get them involved in , in helping me help the public schools plan . The reopenings I think public education, we know it because of what's happened. He's asking much. It's going to take a major, major shift so that public education is not going to be a standard regular bricks and mortar as , as we knew it last year. And it's evolving more into your, like your, your higher ed online correspondence programs or high rate programs where you can get degrees doing it all without having to set foot on campus. So I think we're going to see a merger of those two concepts take place, which would mean less time spent in the bricks and mortar school , uh , uh, and merger of both. So I would want to find those people who've been successful and get them involved right away and helping me plan in my state how to , how to implement , uh, this merger and being sure we've got good fast internet access for all the families that they all had good hardware to work with. And , uh, and , and then the big issue is going to be what about the , uh, single parent , uh, where the mom , uh , monitored one kid and a mom has to go to work. We're going to have to figure how we're going to deal with those kinds of issues. That's going to be , uh , problematic. But , um , I think we're going to see a major shift in the future. Uh , that's going to alter things forever.

Speaker 4:

And back in the forties, fifties, in the thirties, I think there were community centers and an education took place in additional from what the kids got in a normal school. They were given extra education in these community centers after school was out because parents are working. And these, this turned into a very positive experience for the kids. If that was a more relaxed type of a situation, but, but these programs did plug the gaps that the kids needed to be able to go out and fill out a job application to do practical things, keep them, keep a checkbook, write a budget, you know, write a letter. And, and yet there was also a recreation at these community centers, so, and creative type things. So we may find that education is taking place in new places , uh , whether that's school sponsored or not, I don't know. But , um, it's an opportunity, I'm just afraid what below this opportunity to make things better. And we really do have a chance to get away from the old model, which is about 115 years old now and , and start to do some serious changes and uh , more flexibility.

Speaker 2:

So for, for the children that are, you know, in that more , uh, severe, severely challenged, you know, severely disabled category where any remote distance learning, no matter how it's delivered is just not going to make an impact in their education. Right. Um, what, what are the steps that parents should be doing now during the school closure where their child's just not receiving anything? Um, anything meaningful, but w w what, what type of recommendations would you have for those families?

Speaker 4:

I think they need to be doing that daily log or progress monitoring or lack of progress monitoring. I think they need to , it has to be written. They have to have documentation to support what has been and what the child's response has been. Because these children are really going to need a lot of help when things finally do, when it's safe for the children to begin , uh , receding help . We're kind of stuck in that mindset right now. Okay. Can they , this happen since many in my state, for example, they closed school, but they had to the end of the academic year, which was in early June. So people don't seem to be able to think well, but it may be safe in July and August to start educating kids. So I think we need to be more flexible about that. And because these kids are gonna , they really need a lot, but, and the kids, the dyslexic kids who were just finally, you know , getting it and now have had nothing, you know, there's just it, it just is, it's a big job and people are going to have to be willing to put the time and, and the mental energy and to creating these plans for it , for kids.

Speaker 3:

Well , and what we've been talking about, Jeff has been more about the youngster who does have the ability to sit in front of a computer. We've not been talking about visualizing that child with a severe profound cognitive disability or the child with severe autism who, who is unable to really focus on much of anything and it's going to require different approaches , uh, depending upon the degree of the disability and the severity. And in some instances it's going to have to entail having the bricks and mortar facility for the child to , to go to in the daytime. And , um, I , it , it's, it's gonna be an incredible wide range of , um, services that are gonna have to be there thinking , uh, from , from both ends of the spectrum , uh, from, from really, really difficult, hard to manage children with , um, uh , severe neurological issues , uh, all the way to the , uh, more , uh, standard kind of a , a child with , uh , um, disabilities that , uh , might be LD type in nature or, or whatever. Right ? So they're not any easy answers. You know, Sally Smith , um, founded the lab school, wrote a book way back in the seventies called no easy answers. And that is so true today. Still no, no easy answers.

Speaker 2:

Have you heard , um , about school districts? I want to move now to the IEP pages, right? Have you heard about school districts creating a interim IEP page or a distance learning IEP page as an addendum or an appendix to the IEP? [inaudible] chuckling. And at this point, so have you heard about that? Have any districts done that? I know that we're trying to push for that in Connecticut. Have you heard, have you heard of any districts already doing that?

Speaker 4:

Are you talking about like the contingency plans?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. So, for example, for the audience and for the parents that are, to put it into perspective, let's say you have a child with an IEP and they're getting speech language, OT and a para , um, every day during the traditional school setting with the deliverable of an IEP, what part of that, what part of those services should be implemented during distance learning and how should we best be capturing and memorializing what those services are in the , uh , in, in a distance learning program?

Speaker 4:

Well, what I'm hearing, and I want to make sure we're on the same page, are school districts around the country States are putting out guidance for school districts to create contingency learning plans. Sometimes they call it emergency learning plans. It's generally the concept that the IEP as written cannot be implemented. So this is our contingency plan and these are generally written by attorneys , uh, to try to protect school districts from liability for failure to act at all during this break. Um, so most States seem to have something like this. The deal is though that the IEP, this, this is generally something created by school people and it's kind of watered down IEP or it's you know, you just get distance learning and a packet of materials and the speech language person , I'll call you once a week if she has time, but this doesn't replace the IEP so, so because contingency plan is in effect until school starts again, at which time the current IEP will be implemented except the current IEP will be most likely over a year old at that point. So these things are essentially ways for, that's the school's best offer during an emergency crisis, recognizing that they can't implement the IEP as it's written and it's more to protect them than anything else

Speaker 3:

there . There's a couple of concepts here that can be very dangerous for the parent if they're not aware of that. There . There is a concept in law called stay put and the, if there is a dispute, if there is litigation between parents and the school district and the case goes up into due process, maybe in a federal court, the parent can insist that the child stays put in the current educational placement. And that educational placement is the last agreed upon Jay as a general rule. It's a last agreed upon IEP. And so there have been instances in the past where a child had behavioral disorders. This is before Kobe child had behavioral disorders and school convened a new IEP saying we will , uh , revise the IEP so that the child only spends a half day in school three days a week. Um, and parent agrees because a parent believes they have no other alternatives. So that's the last agreed upon IEP. And then if there's later , uh , litigation's well that's all the kids going to get for as long as the case goes on until it's resolved. Uh, and it's very dangerous. The state board concept, if a parent agrees to a watered down or garbage IEP. So my , uh, position on this is parents should not agree that this new plan because of COBIT isn't current new IEP. Instead that we , uh , we, we both recognize the TRUEGRID has adversely impacted the ability to, to, to provide the IEP services as written. Uh, and we will work with you to do the best we all can do with , uh , understanding that the current IEP still is the current IEP. We're not going to change the IEP cause if you agree to a change to a new IEP , uh , that takes into account COBIT , then you have diluted the services down the road when services ramped up to a much higher level. And you , you have to be very careful about that.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Yeah. One question Jeffrey , I would have for you in a sense is if the parent contracts for speech therapy, OT, PT, those kinds of related services or tutoring, could they make, could they get reimbursed for that and should they write a 10 day letter saying this is what they plan to do and that they will ask for reimbursement at the end? You know , when , when the IEP can be implemented.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, it's interesting that you brought that up, Pam. Um, a lot of that, a lot of those questions have been stirring on Facebook here in Connecticut. And um, you know what, one thing that I've been advising parents on to do is if they are feeling that their child is not being educated to the greatest extent possible through the district's distance learning plan, that they could do a partial notice of unilateral placement where they're putting the district on notice, a 10 day notice for various, you know, kind of , um, you know, services. So if they're , if they're , if there's an evaluator or a clinic that's open that can be delivering certain services that were in the child's IEP [inaudible] that they could certainly get that done and seek reimbursement for it at a later date. I think that's where you're going with it, right? Yeah. Yeah. Great point.

Speaker 3:

The statute. Um, it's in section 14, 12, eight, 10 C that's the 10 business day notice , uh , that you're going to go ahead and , and , and do the , I tell parents whenever you're going to , uh , try and get a service for your child is going to cost the school district money and the statute typically only applies to private school tuition reimbursement. But I say assume the statute applies anytime you're going to ask them to pay something. So you give them the opportunity, you give them advanced notice that you're going to do this. I'm giving them the opportunity to step in and say, well, no, hold on. You don't have to do it. We'll do it. You give them the opportunity to cure and fix and that's the purpose of the statute. So , um, uh , yes. If , if parents know that the school can't provide the speech language the kid may need, but there is a , uh , person down the road there that is open doors are open and they can do it than , than your kid needs it. Right? That's the bottom line. Your kid needs it. And this , uh , period of time when the kid doesn't get it because the school is not able to do it is damaging the kid. Right. If you can get it elsewhere, by all means go for it. Your , your job is to, to , to, to help you target educated as a parent.

Speaker 2:

Right. You know , you, you mentioned something , um , earlier in the show where you think that this is going to , as a result of the outbreak, that there's also the virus outbreak, that this is going to actually change the educational landscape , uh, forever. Uh, can you, can you talk more about that? W you know, especially in relation to how it's going to impact the economy and , and parents having to go back to work , um, and opening up of community centers, you know, and leaning on the private sector for additional evaluations and support . How do you envision it changing and never going back to the way it was

Speaker 3:

higher ed? Um, 10 years ago, did you know that you could get a , uh , a master's degree in psychology and not have to set foot on a campus?

Speaker 2:

Right, right, right.

Speaker 3:

But now you can , and as legitimate, I mean, you, you , you , you're , you're getting , uh , you can go online and get a degree in something. Well, this happened to a , uh , a family member of ours that had had , uh, issues , um, and , uh , grade point average went below what was w expected you got booted out and there was some , uh, uh, the ADA wasn't being complied with. The school was supposed to provide. Youngster was extended time, did not, and , uh , consulted with me and I thought they're damn good case, but they, you know, they didn't want to go after it. And , um, she had, I don't know, she was halfway through getting a bachelor's degree , uh , and, but couldn't go back to this school , uh , and ended up applying and got her degree online. Um, and she's doing still event today. So she spent the last two years of college on a line and never set foot at the facility.

Speaker 4:

She was done in nine months, I think.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, go ahead of time because she was very, very bright and she could move at her own speed on , on things. And , um, and we're going to see more and more of that. I think , uh, it's going to filter down from higher ed in the regular , uh , public school in regular ed settings.

Speaker 2:

What are your thoughts on that, Pam?

Speaker 4:

I think, I think there, there is value to kids being together and, and the social type thing. I don't think that sitting in a classroom with 20 or 30 other kids is necessarily the best way to learn. It's not efficiently and , uh, so I think like Khan Academy, I'm a big fan of Khan Academy and when I need to learn something or I need to relearn something, I go to Khan Academy to take a class, right . Uh , and I can whip through it. So , um,

Speaker 3:

and you can check the speed of the playback and bump it up by 1.5 or 1.75 sometimes. But that's one of the fun things of learning stuff online. You can increase the playback speed.

Speaker 4:

Right? Right. What you're speaking about is kind of what I've been thinking about, that we have an opportunity and I'm afraid that there will be, the schools are the most resistant to change of any organization I've come in to . I would have thought the military, which is very , very resistant and is proud of it, but schools are actually more resistant, I think, than the military to change. They want that. They want that eight to three or whatever day and they want it nine months. The teachers want three months off in the summer and on and on. So there's resistance all over the place. When you want to change something. Middle class parents don't want their kids to go to school in the summertime. They want to send them to camp or to an athletic thing or whatever. So yeah ,

Speaker 3:

so you know, 12 months having a 12 month school, there's no country in the world . There's no country that has 12 months education. Right,

Speaker 4:

right.

Speaker 3:

I don't believe that.

Speaker 2:

Right. Well who knows. I think this is going to definitely a , we're not going to have any school school closures cause of snow days more than that. That's probably going to happen. Right. So let's talk a little bit about rights law. I know that you have a new book coming out, right?

Speaker 3:

W we got , well we got several in process. I actually , um, uh, we have , uh , the , the , the , the ones coming up in a come out next immediately will be our year end reviews series. So every year from 2015 , uh, we've published a book that is , uh , uh, has all of the us court of appeal , special ed cases. It's not the full text of the court case. I took the critical parts of each decision and synthesize them, but use the quotes directly from the decision. So many times I will read someone's analysis in summary of a case and I'll think, Hmm, that's really strange. And I go back and read the case myself, but I don't like reading other people's opinions and medication . I want to read the case and I read the case and I discover that what I take away from is quite different from what someone else did. And I, I learned early on, I guess the , the lawyer took to go back and read the case itself. And our book has quotes directly from the judges , uh , not my summary of , of the case. And there was an between 60 to 75 cases each year are specialized by the us court of appeals. That's one step below the us Supreme court. So we have 2015, 16, 17 and 18 out on our website already. We have them as PDF so you can immediately download the book. And Amazon approached us that the 2015 book in the morning or during that time and would have a print on demand. Uh , and so we agreed. So you can buy the print version from Amazon, you can buy the PDF from us, you can't buy the PDF from Amazon. And the next book, we're , we're , we've finished it up totally now. The 2019 books and uh, it's , it's , uh , I have some individuals who are going through it, editing it, finding my typos or where I was not clear on something or whatever else. And that's about ready to go to print. And then , uh, the next one after that and have done about 90% of it already is our , uh , red law book. There is so well known that has Ida 2004 in it. That statute has not changed. The only thing has changed has been case law over time. They've been about three minor changes in the , uh, statute in terms of the words. And so we're coming out with a third edition of the law book and it's going to be much more annotated than the one before with a lot of reference to the cases and um, and putting much more depth on it. Uh, with regard to five Oh four and ADA five Oh four and ADA have really up in the frequency of number of cases in the past , uh, five years or so have really taken off so many, many more cases now are our five Oh four ADA cases and there've been jury trials where uh , big, big verdicts , uh, have come out there with regard to a violation by school district. Um, and uh, so, so then the next book that we're coming out with after we , uh, get the 2019 year in review book out then will be the revised edition of the law book. And in that we're not going to include the us Supreme court cases as we did with the earlier version. Uh, so we're making room for more of the ADA , uh, and five Oh four statute and regulations and more discussion about the cases that are, that are out there.

Speaker 2:

And your, your, your programs , um, are , are you doing them remotely now or are you going , uh, are you getting back on the road and doing your, your training programs in various cities?

Speaker 3:

We haven't started doing them remotely yet. We do have , um, my one day , uh , uh, program is , uh, available on our website, the download, we're shifting it over to all MP4 to WebEx weld for a separate files that they will have his MP four files in the next couple of days and that's available. But that's , that's old and that is using the old red law book. And I do have a bunch of programs scheduled in the fall and I'm getting improved programs for next spring. But I do expect that we're going to be much like public education. We're going to have some webinars and online training. Uh, also , uh, and we haven't devised the model exactly for that yet.

Speaker 4:

I think, I think I've been looking into various , uh, organizations that do training and what platforms are using and how they structure, say, Pete six hour , uh , program, which generally is a little more than six hours, but how to break that down so that , uh, in what time to present it to do it live so people have some benefit from it. How , how to limit the number of participants so people don't feel like they're just locked out of being able to ask questions. So I, and I'm experimenting with that, I think it would be a great opportunity to be able to do that. People go away, they'll be gone for four days for a program that's one day long, you know, with the , with getting there two days early in case his flight gets bumped , uh, preparing, doing the program and then a day back , you know , flying back, it's four days for one. So I think there's a way to do it a lot more effectively and a lot of people can't go. We save it as 20 a year and they're in metropolitan areas of people that are shut out unless they can travel a good distance. So I think it'd be a good, would be very good if it's to do something else.

Speaker 2:

And I always liked that . So good. Good. Well, P and Pam, right? It's, it's, it's been a real pleasure having you on the show. And by the way, congratulations again on your , um, your lifetime achievement award with , with Copa . Uh, that was the last time I think we saw each other right before the virus hit in March.

Speaker 3:

Yes. Uh , I appreciate your mentioning that Copa for those who are not familiar with council of parents , attorneys or advocates , uh , organization that was founded, I don't know, sometime in I think in the , uh, late eighties, early nineties, and Pam and I were a part of the original group that helped found it. Uh, www dot [inaudible] dot org they , uh , gave us at the annual conference , uh , just a few months ago. It was in March. Um, they gave both of us a lifetime achievement award, beautiful plaque, and he caught us by surprise. We did not know that we were going to receive that award. Um, and , uh , it was, it was , um, no , no , I mean when we learned about it, I bet a couple, yeah, we knew a couple of weeks before we were gonna receive it. I mean, it , it really , uh, w w was quite an arm and , uh, I appreciate your bringing that up.

Speaker 2:

You know, the , the most moving part about , um, watching you receive the award was at the end, Pete and Pam, when you asked, I believe you asked all of the first time Copa attendees to stand up the newest members of Copa and, and uh , you know, you, you, you gave them some parting words that , that they're the next generation to steer the way for , uh , special education rights. And that, that was really touching. It was really, really great speech. Yeah ,

Speaker 3:

well, you know , uh, as I've , uh, been , um, finishing up this last book, I dedicating the year in review book to Copa and I started to , uh, list a number of individual attorneys and what I was doing, been doing the year end review books. Uh, I keep on, I run the cases down to see who the attorneys are. Um, and , and read the earlier district court opinions. And I've seen names of the old farts out there, people like me that have been doing this. I've been, I've been, I got into special ed. I've been doing special laws since the late seventies, and there's so many other attorneys out there that have , uh, just done incredible jobs in , in transforming the whole field of special ed for the benefit of the parents because I see all these names. Then second, you know, some of them are drop her off and, and we've had uh, uh , too many have passed away. A few have, have retired, but some of them are still like me. They're still out. I'm not practicing actively, but I'm still active in the field with the books and I'm seeing all these names and say can you know , um, they , they have really just done an incredible job. And now look at you. She actually went to the ISEA program is the way that we had incidence , first side advocacy at William and Mary. That's where we first met you and you were just young blood.

Speaker 2:

Yeah .

Speaker 3:

And you were one of the people I was thinking of when I , when I said that, cause you are going to be the future of all this as we pass by the wayside. Uh , and things like what you're doing tonight to do today with, with this , uh, uh , podcast and, and , uh, and it's all the new generation and y'all really stepping up. And I'm so glad to see that. It really, it , it's, it's, it's, it's really great. It's fantastic. And I thank you. I thank you , uh , Jeff for doing this.

Speaker 2:

Well, thank, thank you again, Pete and Pam, right. It's, it's been a privilege and an honor to have you on the show , um, for, for our audience, please visit wrightslaw.com , uh, there's going to be some new books coming out. And , um, the, the programs, the parent training programs and the advocate training programs are, are, are still going forward , um, perhaps, you know, remotely and then the city near you. And , uh , stay tuned for another episode of let's talk sped law next time .

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Pam and Pete . Right.