Coronavirus and Schools: Clearing the Evaluation and Reevaluation Backlog - A Recommended Triage
Most of you are realizing that resources will be strained to the breaking point when school finally reopens in the fall. Of great concern is clearing the inevitable backlog of evaluations and reevaluations while trying at the same time to tread water with ongoing referrals and triennial reevaluations. Some of you have asked us to recommend a plan for addressing that backlog with the least possible legal risk. Any recommendations we make in this regard must come with the caveat that has become so common in this pandemic: only full compliance with the evaluation timeline and “child find” expectations established in state and federal law will completely avoid legal risk—and full compliance, given the size of the challenge and the limitations of our resources, is simply not possible. With that in mind, we have attached a recommended nine-month triage plan for clearing evaluation and reevaluation backlogs. This plan reflects our best recommendations. It is not legal advice as much as it is a plan for minimizing harm as much as is possible. Others might look over this plan and have equally viable alternatives.
The plan clusters types of evaluations and reevaluations into three groups of three months each, with the first group consisting of the most urgently-needed evaluations and reevaluations. The plan assumes that schools will pursue two practices we do not generally recommend: (1) the waiver of three-year revaluations, with parent consent, with the understanding that the next reevaluation will occur as soon as possible and not necessarily three years down the road; and (2) that when viable MTSS exists, teams will issue prior written notice (NOREPs) refusing parent-requested evaluations until that process is exhausted (we have long recommended that MTSS should not continue for more than a year without proposing an evaluation, and we continue to believe that should be the outside limit).
We hope you find this resource useful but, as Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley [often go awry] an’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain.”