Below are today’s updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on Texas public schools.  For additional resources, please visit our COVID-19 page.

TEA Special Education Updates for the Week of May 11, 2020
Dean Micknal, Partner

The Texas Education Agency issued updated guidance on two Special Education issues under its General Guidance tab last week.

First, TEA revised its Residential Program and High Cost Fund Guidance to clarify that non-public day schools are considered “schools” per Governor Abbot’s executive orders and that those orders are applicable to school services provided at both non-public residential schools or programs and residential facilities.  This means that in-class instruction must remain temporarily closed, even though those facilities can maintain the residential components of their programs. TEA also advised that LEAs should work with non-public providers to review and potentially amend contract terms during this time.

TEA also reasserted that, because the U.S. Department of Education has not granted any waivers of IDEA requirements, High Cost Funds (HCFs) will continue to be based solely on services actually being provided to students. TEA also clarified that the HCF application deadline will be extended to June 1, 2020 and that schools that have already submitted the application may email to request their application be placed in “amend” status.

Finally, TEA also issued highly anticipated guidance regarding Considerations for Extended School Year and Compensatory Services which focuses on:

  • The differences between ESY and compensatory services for students with disabilities;
  • Key considerations for ensuring that students with disabilities receive continuity of services with minimal interruption during this unique situation; and
  • Where to find helpful resources and tips related to ESY and providing compensatory services to students with disabilities, including best practices for delivering services remotely or virtually.

Importantly, the guidance appears to confirm that TEA is adopting an individualized determination model with respect to compensatory services rather than mandating any sort of straight-line or 1:1 calculation.  The good news is that this reaffirms that while some students may require extensive compensatory services upon returning to normal operations, others will need minimal compensatory services, and those who have actually made progress on IEP goals may not require any at all.  Unfortunately, this also means that Special Education departments will be very busy, as each and every student will need to be evaluated to determine how much, if any, compensatory services need to be provided to mitigate the impact of the loss of critical skills or learning that might have occurred as a result of the inability to fully implement each IEP during the pandemic.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Leasor Crass, P.C. if we can provide further assistance on these matters.

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