Updates on Distance Learning, Apportionment, and Special Education

There have been numerous updates made available to California schools, all of which have been and will continue to be greatly impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The California Department of Education (CDE) is updating its resources as things progress, including distance learning, school meals, and childcare and supervision. You can access guidance for K-12 public schools here: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/guidance.asp.

In addition, CDE hosted a live update through its Facebook page. That webinar is currently available at https://www.facebook.com/CAEducation/.

SB 117

On Monday, the state legislature enacted Senate Bill 117 to provide local educational agencies (LEA) some relief of certain statutory requirements. For the complete text of SB 117, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB117.

SB 117 clarifies how apportionment will be handled as a result of school closures and permitting charter schools to offer independent study for all students without a material revision to the charter petition.

In addition, SB 117 waives some special education timelines regarding providing an assessment plan within 15 days and providing student records in response to a parent request.

  • Referral (request) for an assessment: the 15-day time period to issue the plan is tolled for the days a school is closed due to COVID–19 up until the time the school reopens and the regular school session reconvenes.

  • The 5-business day timeline to respond to records requests is waived.

These waivers apply even if an LEA continues to offer educational opportunities through distance learning, or independent study, or both, during the period of time a school is closed due to COVID–19. However, SB 117 also encourages LEAs to respond as expeditiously as possible to requests from parents or guardians received during the period of time a school is closed due to COVID–19. Right now, all other timelines for special education remain in place.

For the complete text of SB 117, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB117.

Special Education Due Process

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), which handles special education requests for due process (complaints) is continuing to move forward with mediation and hearings. However, parties can opt to cancel mediation or seek a continuance for hearings. Updates from OAH related to special education can be accessed at: https://www.dgs.ca.gov/OAH/Case-Types/Special-Education/Resources/SE-Coronavirus-Update/#@ViewBag.JumpTo.

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education is also advising LEAs to be prepared to provide special education and related services during school closures, which is particularly important if the LEA is also serving its general education students during the closure. LEAs will also need to consider providing compensatory education once students return to school. This consideration should be made on a student-by-student basis through the IEP process. For more information from the federal government:

Schools are encouraged to consult with their local public health department to address issues arising at or related to the school site, students, parents, or employees. The Law Offices of Megan M. Moore can assist you with legal questions related to student safety, discrimination, and special education. Contact us at: megan@meganmoorelaw.com.

Posts in Moore on School Law 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.