What does “swine flu” have to do with FAPE?

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If you are a parent of a child who has an IEP, you know that schools must ensure equal access to educational opportunities for students with disabilities and provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE).

What happens if your child’s school must close for an extended period because of an outbreak of swine flu? Is this considered a loss of “educational opportunities?”

The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance to help prepare state educational agencies and local school districts in the event of an outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus during the coming school year.

The guidance, in question and answer format, addresses the obligations of, and best practices for, state agencies and local schools with regard to the requirements for providing FAPE for children with disabilities when planning for an H1N1 outbreak.

Section I, B of the guidance explains the requirements under IDEA for providing education services under a child’s IEP, conducting IEP meetings and evaluations, etc.

The full text of the guidance document can be found here: Guidance on flexibility and waivers for SEAs, LEAs, postsecondary institutions, and other grantee and program participants. (September 1, 2009)  Download guidance document: https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/osers/2009.swineflu.guidance.pdf

Check Education Week’s On Special Education Blog. Lisa Fine summarizes the guidance in Ed. Dept. Gives Guidance on Providing Special Education During a Swine Flu Outbreak


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