The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) & the Office for Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education have released clear guidance to the states that school districts like DCPS and the individual DC public charter schools do have to comply with IDEA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation act when they return to providing instruction (either online or in person). The Department of Education also made it clear that failure to comply with IDEA and section 504 may entitle the child to compensatory services. What all that looks like in real life is still a moving target, for all schools in DC and the rest of the country.
This guidance is found in four communications from the Department of Education that parents and advocates thinking about students with disabilities ought to know about.
First is OCR’s webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Second is a fact sheet also from OCR for education leaders on how to protect students’ civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure. OSEP’s Q&A is available here and speaks directly to the FAPE obligation of school districts. Finally, OCR issued a second fact sheet on March 21st specifically about the rights of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.