8 Frequently Asked Questions about Compensatory Education

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During the COVID school closures, did your child’s school continue to provide the special education and related services in your child’s IEP?

Did the school find ways to provide your child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?

Understand Your Child’s Right to Compensatory Education

In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Education published Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During a COVID-19 Outbreak.

The USDOE advised that if a school could not provide the services in a child’s IEP and the child regressed (lost knowledge and skills), the school will need to provide compensatory education services to reverse the losses.[references below]

Prepare for Comp Ed Meetings

As schools prepare to reopen, expect the IEP team (including you) to schedule a meeting or meetings to discuss your child’s eligibility for compensatory education. Assuming your child is eligible, the IEP team needs to decide what compensatory services your child needs.

Before the IEP team can determine the comp ed services your child needs, the team needs data on your child’s skills and needs. An evaluator needs to assess:

  • present levels of academic achievement and functional performance
  • the child’s needs for special education and related services

After reviewing data from the assessments, the IEP team will need to develop a written plan that describes your child’s compensatory education services and how the school will provide these services. This plan should become part of your child’s IEP.

As your child’s advocate, you need to learn all you can about compensatory education now. Your child has no more time to waste.

8 Frequently Asked Questions about Compensatory Education will help you identify the obstacles and pitfalls you may encounter. Study these questions and answers carefully.

  1. What is compensatory education?
  2. How is the amount of compensatory education awarded?
  3. How do we manage claims that the remedial education planned for all students will suffice for students in special education?
  4. What if the school district argues that all students suffered from a reduction in resources generally because of school closings?
  5. Will all children with IEPs be entitled to compensatory education because they lost the in-person teaching expected in their IEPs?
  6. How will school districts determine which children get compensatory education?
  7. What if the school argues that they have a reduced funding environment that makes it hard to provide FAPE?
  8. What are the options for special education dispute resolution in COVID-19 compensatory education from your state or at a statewide level?

Download 8 Frequently Asked Questions About Compensatory Education in the Time of COVID-19 (6 pages) from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA).

Make copies of this document to share with the members of your child’s IEP team.

[1] Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During a COVID-19 Outbreak (March 2020)
“If a child does not receive services after an extended period, a school must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed . . . to make for any skills that may have been lost.” (Answer to Question A-2),

“If a child does not receive services during a closure, a child’s IEP team (or appropriate personnel under Section 504) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory education may be needed . . . including to make up for any skills that may have been lost.” (Answer to Question A-3)

  1. Is there an expiration date on the compensatory for lack of progress from Covid? My son made little, meaning very little progress over the last 3 years. I worked with him over summer and taught more than he learned in the three years. Just wondering if I am too late?

  2. Is there guidance for compensatory education for para-educator support? Not related to a school closure, but lack of a consistent person, and not providing this service at all for weeks at a time has impacted my student’s progress and mental health. What kinds of things can be requested for this type of compensatory services?

    • Same here. We received an email last week from the special ed teacher managing his case, updating us on the great week he had on his own since his para left. Except we were never informed she was leaving. This is entirely out of character historically for them, I know it’s b/c they are stretched too thin but my son not only has not progressed but has regressed in his coping skills. He is advanced academically so all of his IEP goals are soc/emotional and organizational: basically 0% of his IEP can be executed outside the classroom/school ground setting. I’m freaking out b/c he starts middle school this fall, and I can’t get a pulse on the situation. He really needs to be observed more than handled and his latest FBA was a joke. It would’ve been perfect for a “how not to complete an FBA”. We are at a loss. I can’t begin to think of how he could be compensated but I am nearly certain that he has been denied a significant amount of support for an extended period of time.

  3. My son had to get compensatory reading during a time when the reading teacher was on medical leave & they could not find someone for a long time. Once the teacher came back she wanted to make up all the time in minutes added at the end or before each regular session. I did not agree with this. I wanted all of the time to be added as if she had done each session (1/2 hour long each time). this was because adding minutes at the end of the session until the minutes were gone is not the same as what was lost. Just wanted t add this to your information.

    • You’re right – simply adding minutes at the end of a session is not the same as making up for what was lost when a child does not receive services.
      Apologies for my late response to your comment.

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