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. My son has 30 hours of compensatory education in his IEP dated 6/22. The school at first said they have no staff, they couldn’t find anyone. Now they say I have to sign a huge release that deals with other things other than compensatory education. The district said if I don’t sign it he gets no tutoring. But it is in his IEP already. Can they do that?

  2. My son had 30 hours put in his IEP in June of 2022. The school keeps saying they have no staff and are not giving him the time. My son is getting farther and farther behind. Now they said I have to sign a settlement agreement agreeing to hold them harmless and not to file anything if I don’t sign they told me he can’t have the compensatory ed that’s in his IEP. Can they do that?

  3. I am an advocate working with a family, the child is in 1st grade. His IEP was written at the end of Kindergarten year. Since that time the school has only allowed him to be in the building for 1/2 hour of instruction and 1/2 hour of recess. The rest of the school day is at home with his Mother who is close to be evicted because she can not work. My feeling is the school owes an huge amount of comp ed. They have never even tried to have him at school for a full day. This is not what the parent wants but what the school has done.

  4. My daughter is 100% deaf. Her Teacher of the Deaf, has been absent during the 2021-2022 on and off about 85% starting from August of 2021 to the end of school year. The beginning of school year in Aug 2022 until now she has been present 10 days. My daughter has regressed some not receiving these services that are in her IEP. She is owe 3000 compensatory minutes just for this year. It is more than that for the prior school year. I have called for a special review and they want my daughter to do 3 days a week after school to make up the minutes, i refused i don’t think it is fair to my daughter. I have been also made aware that she isn’t up to date with her certification, her certification lapsed since last year. During ESY i was told that compensatory minutes will be made up during that time. That didn’t make sense, ESY has their own minutes. The district person at times would fill in maybe 2 times a month she is a TOD. She was well aware of this Teacher of the Deaf severe absents. There is another parent that has also filed a complaint with the state. The person informed her to call a lady from the district, the lady was very unwelcoming. The superintendent was notified, we were told to call the district, no one is helping. During a couple IEP meetings, the TOD had no clue on how to do the IEP form, she just duplicated last year’s goals that was already mastered. During ESY i repeatedly ask for the updated IEP and never received it until i got an advocate and they requested it, and it was received. What can we do, who can help? I am located in South Carolina.

    • You have several big problems – your child is not receiving special ed services from a teacher who is qualified to teach children who are deaf or HI, an IEP with old goals, and thousands of minutes of compensatory ed that the school has not provided. I agree that a school offering to provide so much comp ed after school is making a big mistake – after spending the day in school, kids are tired. Need a break.
      You need to keep good records about all contacts with the school – who told you what and when. You can use a notebook to create a log with entries of contacts.

      I don’t have a sense of where your child is functioning academically and in functional skills. You need to locate a person with expertise in children who are deaf and get an evaluation of your child. The evaluator will be in a strong position to make recommendations about what your child needs as you continue on this road – AND that by doing nothing, the school is damaging your child.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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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