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U.S. Department Of Education Releases Question And Answers On Special Education During Pandemic
On May 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released two Question and Answer documents in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B and Part C dispute resolution procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Question and Answer documents encourage parents, local educational agencies, and early intervention service providers to work collaboratively to resolve disagreements that may occur when working to provide a positive educational experience for children with disabilities. The documents note that a state educational agency may extend the 60-day time limit for resolving a state complaint due to circumstances related to the pandemic on a case-by-case basis. The IDEA does not contain a specific timeframe in which IDEA mediation must occur to resolve disputes so long as the timeline does not deny or delay a parent’s right to a hearing on the due process complaint or any other rights under IDEA. A parent and local educational agency may agree to extend the applicable timelines. Additionally, a parent and local educational agency or early intervention provider may agree to hold a resolution or due process meeting virtually, rather than face-to-face. Finally, hearing officers or reviewing officers have authority to extend the applicable timelines for issuing decisions on due process complaints during the pandemic.
The Questions and Answer documents, along with other documents the Department published related to COVID-19, are available on the Office for Civil Rights’ website: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/topic-areas/#COVID-19