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The Special Ed Advocate: IEP Meetings, Paper Trails and One Terrific Movie (April 1, 2020)

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"Are school districts required to hold annual IEPs, triennials, and initial IEPs meetings with schools closed? Can IEP meetings be postponed until schools re-open?"

confused woman shrugs shoulders

Welcome to April. For those of you with kids at home, this is your April Fools' warning. A nationwide school closure has never happened in our lifetimes. States and school districts cannot rely upon past experiences to decide what they should and should not do. When schools re-open, you should assume that school staff are unlikely to remember what they told you and will be confused about how to proceed.

You and the staff at your child's school may be communicating about how the school can meet some of your child's needs now. You may even have attended an online IEP meeting or two.

Or you may have had no contact with your child's team or teachers because school administrators decided not to provide any educational services to any students.

In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, we will answer your questions about IEP team meetings, help you create a paper trail to document your child's special education during the school closure, and recommend an inspiring new movie that you can watch with your kids.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1. Coronavirus FAQs: Can IEP Meetings Be Postponed Until Schools Re-Open?

"Are school districts required to hold annual IEPs, triennials, and initial IEP meetings with schools closed? Can IEP meetings be postponed until schools re-open?"

In March 2020, COVID-19 forced States to close K-12 schools. These schools are unlikely to re-open for several months, leading to questions about how to proceed. School administrators considered how to deal with timelines for IEP meetings. The idea of postponing IEP meetings until schools re-opened was floated.

Should schools postpone IEP meetings until after schools re-open? Let's think about this question. How would postponing IEP meetings actually work? Who will benefit from a decision to postpone IEP meetings? Who will be harmed?

For answers to these and other questions, please read Coronavirus FAQs: Can IEP Meetings Be Postponed Until Schools Re-Open?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2. Protect Your Child's Interests: Create a Paper Trail

"If it is not in writing, it was not said. If it is not in writing, it did not happen." - Pete Wright

You need to create a paper trail that documents your child’s special education during the school closure. You can use low-tech tools - journals, logs, calendars, and letters to create your paper trail.

When you train yourself to write things down, you are protecting your child’s interests.
If you have a dispute with the school later, your paper trail is independent evidence that will support your memory. Documents that support your position will help you resolve disputes early.

Confused about where to start? Read Using Low-Tech Tools to Create Paper Trails.

This article is from our book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy. The book includes chapters about paper trails and letter-writing. You will learn how to use logs, journals and calendars, Problem Reports and about "The Art of Writing Letters."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

3. New York Times Critics Pick: Crip Camp - A Disability Revolution" Premieres on Netflix

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution Premieres on Netflix


"No matter how fondly you recall your time at sleepaway camp, chances are your experiences weren't as formative as the ones recounted in "Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution," a documentary streaming on Netflix, writes Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times."

"Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution" tells the story of a summer camp for teenagers with disabilities in the 1970s. The camp brought people together who would energize and lead the movement for civil rights protections for themselves and for those who would follow them."

"Ultimately, 'Crip Camp' has a universal message: Inspirations that begin in youth can lead to radical, world-changing results. At the end, a number of former campers reunite at the camp's unprepossessing present-day site. They see something more, and so will you."


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Created: 04/01/20
Revised: 00/00/00

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