Under current state and federal law, an IEP team must consider whether a qualified student requires assistive technology (AT) for a student to access her or his educational program. AT devices can range from low to more advanced technology, such as a pencil grip to help writing (low tech) or an iPad with text-to-speech software so the student can communicate (high tech). AB 605, effective January 1, 2020, adds Section 56040.3 to the California Education. It confirms that local educational agencies (LEA), including charter school LEAs must provide access to school-purchased AT devices when necessary to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This means providing the required device at no cost to the student or family.
AB 605 further clarifies an LEA must also provide the AT device at home or in other settings if the IEP team determines the student needs access in those settings to receive FAPE. For example, if a student needs a pencil grip to complete written homework, the LEA must provide a pencil grip at home.
AB 605 also imposes new obligations after a student leaves an LEA. Under Education Code 56040.3(b), an LEA must provide the AT device or a comparable device even when that student enrolls in another LEA. This obligation continues until alternative arrangements can be made or until two months have elapsed from the student’s withdrawal in the original LEA, whichever occurs first.
To ensure compliance with AB 605, consider the following:
Create an at-home use agreement for AT devices if you don’t already have one. Such agreements would need to be carefully worded to ensure compliance with the IDEA and state law and may include parameters if the AT device is lost or broken.
Create a school-to-school agreement for AT equipment that travels with the student to a new LEA once a student transfers. LEAs will want to ensure any AT device is returned once the student receives a device from the new LEA (or after 2 months).
Review existing procedures regarding a student’s withdrawal from the LEA to ensure the provision of AT devices is part of the process for a student transitioning to a new LEA.
Provide training for staff about AT supports and devices. IEP teams must make sure access and use of that device is clearly laid out in a student’s IEP.
Ensure legal counsel reviews agreements and policies governing AT.
If you have questions about AB 605 and its impact on your school or your existing policies, please contact Megan so she can assist.
by Barbara Raich and Megan Moore
Barbara Raich has over 8 years of experience advising and supporting public schools. She has researched and developed policy, provided guidance on student discipline, and supported charter schools through special education due process matters.
Megan Moore is the President of the Law Offices of Megan M. Moore and brings over 11 years of experience guiding school districts, charter schools, and SELPAs through complex legal issues related to student discipline, parent-school relationships and special education.
Posts in Moore on School Law are for informational purposes and are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect any laws, subjects, or information shared. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this or any update from Moore on School Law. Contact Megan for additional guidance or support: Megan@MeganMooreLaw.com.