Coronavirus and Schools: : Compensatory Services, Part 1 - Some Documents
We have fielded many questions concerning compensatory services in recent weeks. To answer some of them, and some of your requests, we are enclosing the following:
1. A flow chart illustrating the process by which we are recommending you consider compensatory services over the course of the 2020-2021 school term after schools re-open. As you will see, we recommend a triage under which the most urgent cases are considered immediately, others are considered by the two-month mark, and the rest are considered as a matter of routine when IEP teams reconvene for annual review and revision meetings. As a general matter, we recommend that over the first two months after re-opening, IEP teams establish new baselines for each goal in each IEP and then implement up to six weeks of “recoupment instruction,” after which progress should be assessed. Under the triage system we are recommending, teams would convene immediately—before the completion of baselining and recoupment instruction—only when (a) parents are seeking meetings and cannot be persuaded to await the outcome of data collection and recoupment instruction; (b) the child is evidently struggling more than expected; or (c) the IEP is due for annual revision (in which case the compensatory services determination can be deferred if data is needed and the parents are willing). The next group for which meetings would occur are those students for whom two months of data collection and recoupment instruction are indicating needs requiring immediate attention. The final group—and hopefully the largest—would consist of those students whose compensatory services determination can await the annual IEP review.
2. A worksheet to facilitate IEP team determination of the need for compensatory services. While teams can complete the data sections of this form ahead of the meeting, and can even share the partially-completed form with parents in advance, completion of the yes/no section of the first table in this form, and the entire second table should await the actual team meeting—to avoid any impression that the school pre-determined the outcome of the inquiry. We anticipate that for 2020-2021, eligibility for compensatory services will be a required topic of discussion for the IEP team of every child, just as ESY eligibility is, regardless of whether the student ultimately qualifies for these services.
3. A side-by-side comparison of compensatory education, which is a remedy that hearing officers and courts often award to students when the responsible LEA has not offered appropriate programming that enables the student to realize “meaningful progress,” and compensatory services, which IEP teams design to ensure that the student is “made whole”—that he or she attains the approximate level of progress he or she would have attained but for the pandemic-related closings. The two forms of “compensation share many similarities, but they are also different in many key aspects.
In our next installment, we will share model language for documenting “compensatory services” in IEPs and NOREPs.