All Header Images © Daniel Voegelin  

App to track school services

Parents can use this app on phones or computers to easily keep a record of their child’s remote special education services and instruction during COVID-19.   Using this app, parents can easily keep track of the types of remote services and instruction provided by the school and their child’s level of participation. Parents can also write notes with any concerns about how their child is doing.

The information can help you improve distance learning.  It can also help determine whether children needs compensatory education services from the school district when schools re-open.

Go to using your smartphone.

This app is a collaboration between Massachusetts Advocates for Children,  Mass Families Organizing for Change Northeast, and Tallylab, LLC. If you have any questions about this log, or ways we can make it better, please contact


Padres pueden utilizar app en sus teléfonos o computadoras para documentar los servicios de educación especial y nivel de instrucción de su hijo(a) durante COVID-19. Utilizando este app, usted puede hacer seguimiento de los servicios remotos y la instrucción que la escuela provee, así como el nivel de participación de su hijo(a) en dichas actividades. Usted también puede escribir notas de cualquier preocupación que tenga sobre el desarrollo de su hijo(a).

Esperamos que este app le ayude a hacer seguimiento del desarrollo de su hijo(a) mientras las escuelas están cerradas completamente o parcialment. Esta información puede ser útil para mejorar el aprendizaje a distancia. También puede ayudar a determinar si su hijo(a) necesitará servicios de educación compensatorios cuando las escuelas abran.

Vaya a utilizando su teléfono.

La creación de este app fue una colaboración entre Mass Families Organizing for Change Northeast, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, y TallyLab,LLC. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta al respecto, o algún comentario, por favor contacte a


Mass Advocates for Children Attorney Julia Landau

MAC Weekly Chat: Fall Reopening for Students with Disabilities during COVID-19


As part of our COSA response to the COVID-19 outbreak, MAC is leading weekly virtual chats for parents to connect with each other and learn tips for advocating for your children during this pandemic.

For this week’s chat, MAC Attorney Julia Landau will talk about state guidance for fall opening of schools for students with disabilities. This is a chance to learn and ask questions about current guidance regarding special education services in the fall.  We will also provide updates about summer extended school year services and compensatory services.

This chat will be helpful for parents of children with all types of disabilities, including autism.

Please bring your questions. We want to hear from you!

Thursday, July 9, 2020
8:00-8:45  PM

Register in advance for the chat:

You only have to register once for the entire weekly series. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the chat.

Questions? Email


Special Education During a Pandemic Webinar & Comp. Ed.

Gain Access to Webinar Here

Comp.Ed. Law Webinar PP

Compensatory Education Case Law
from the Beginning
Through Draper in 2008

by Pete & Pam Wright

Compensatory education is not addressed in either the United States Code, (IDEA 2004), the Code of Federal Regulations, or state statutes and regulations. It is not in IDEA.

It is strictly a creation of and developed by case law! To understand it, you need to know the history.

The evolution of changes in special education law are caused, in part, by changes in the United States Code. For example, the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act was revised in 1997 and it’s name was changed to the Individuals with Disabilties Education Act (known as IDEA 97).

Another major revision was in 2004 and now that law is typically referred to as IDEA 2004. In addition to changes by Congress, the evolution of changes in special education law are created by the decisions issued by the U. S. Supreme Court and the U. S. Courts of Appeal.

The law about entitlement to compensatory education has been directly impacted by three cases from the U. S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) – Burlington in 1985, this author’s Carter case in 1993, and the recent 2017 Endrew F. case.

Decisions from the next lower court, the U. S. Courts of Appeal, have caused a major shift and are the focus of this overview about the law of compensatory education.

In 1982, the Eighth Circuit in Miener v. State of Missouri 673 F.2d 969 (8th Cir.1982) held that “Congress did not create a private cause of action under the EHA for the damage relief requested, including compensatory educational services.”

In 1985, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in Burlington School Committee v. Department of Education, 471 U.S. 359, 105 S.Ct. 1996, 85 L.Ed.2d 385 (1985) explaining that:

“In this Court, the Town repeatedly characterizes reimbursement as ‘damages,’ but that simply is not the case. Reimbursement merely requires the Town to belatedly pay expenses that it should have paid all along and would have borne in the first instance had it developed a proper IEP.”

In ordering tuition reimbursement to the parents, the Court said that “The statute directs the court to ‘grant such relief as it determines is appropriate.’ The ordinary meaning of these words confers broad discretion on the court. The type of relief is not further specified, except that it must be ‘appropriate.’ Absent other reference, the only possible interpretation is that the relief is to be ‘appropriate’ in light of the purpose of the Act . . . [and that] means that equitable considerations are relevant in fashioning relief.”

In 1986, Miener went back to the Eighth Circuit on a renewed claim for compensatory education. The Court reversed itself explaining that “However, the Supreme Court’s decision in Burlington, supra, a unanimous opinion by Mr. Justice Rehnquist, has altered our understanding of what “damages” includes in the context of the EHA . . . the plaintiff is entitled to recover compensatory educational services if she prevails on her claim that the defendants denied her a free appropriate education in violation of the EHA.” Miener v. State of Missouri 800 F. 2d 749 (8th Cir.1986)

Miener was the first U. S. Court of Appeals to uphold an award of compensatory education and continues to be regularly cited by other courts as the legal authority for such an award.

In 1988, two years later, the Eleventh Circuit, in Jefferson County (Alabama) v. Breen, 853 F.2d 853 (11th Cir.1988) citing Burlington and Miener as authority held that “Compensatory education, like retroactive reimbursement, is necessary to preserve a handicapped child’s right to a free education . . . [and] providing a compensatory education should serve as a deterrent against states unnecessarily prolonging litigation in order to decrease their potential liability. We believe that the district court correctly ordered the Board to provide Alice with two years compensatory education.”

Four months later, in New York, the Second Circuit, in Burr v. Ambach, 863 F. 2d 1071 (2d Cir.1988), also citing Burlington and Miener, held that “Administrative and legal proceedings are often lengthy, and a person who prevails at the end of such proceedings should be able to obtain what the proceedings establish he was entitled to when they began. Clifford should not lose the education to which he was entitled at the time his parents requested a hearing under the Act because the hearing was protracted. The Institute was mistaken when it decided that its program was inappropriate for Clifford, as the administrative decisions show, and that mistake should not cost Clifford one and one-half years of education to which he was entitled.” Note, after this decision, Burr went back up to the Court a year later on another issue, so that this case is known as Burr I and the other as Burr II.

In 1990, the Third Circuit, in Lester H. v. Gilhool, PA Secretary of Education 916 F.2d 865 (3d Cir.1990), upheld a district court ruling that “awarded the plaintiff, Lester H., two and one half years of compensatory education beyond age 21, the statutory maximum specified in the EHA.”

For two and a half years, as a result of different schools and home-bound instruction, the child did not receive FAPE. The Court of Appeals upheld the District Court explaining that “The injury has been done and although the exact contours of the appropriate remedy may not be ascertainable now, Lester’s injury certainly could be, and was, ascertained. Moreover, the court left ample room for the exact contours of the remedy to be shaped by the appropriate authorities at the appropriate time. All the court did was award Lester the number of years needed to restore that which concededly had been denied him and that to which he is entitled . . .”

A month later, the Second Circuit again addressed compensatory education in Mrs. C. v. Wheaton (Comm. of Educ, CT) 916 F.2d 69 (2d. Cir.1990). This case is similar to some issues that are presently occuring nationwide related to COVID-19 and services either being terminated or not provided.

“In light of our determination that the Department was required to follow EHA procedures before terminating J.C.’s educational placement, the complaint clearly alleges violations of the EHA that led to J.C.’s exclusion from his educational placement. Moreover, a comparison of appellant’s allegations with the violations we found in Burr I shows that compensable education is an appropriate remedy here. The ‘gross violations’ we found in Burr I consisted of undue delay in an agency hearing and in administrative review thereafter in violation of the EHA and applicable regulations in a situation where the handicapped child was being deprived of the benefit of the ‘stay-put’ provision of the EHA because his former school had closed.

Thus, in Burr I the failure to comply with EHA procedures completely deprived the student of an educational placement until he was 21. Here, appellant alleges that defendants in effect took advantage of J.C.’s mental infirmities in order to evade EHA procedures, resulting in J.C.’s complete exclusion from an educational placement until he was 21, with disastrous results. We believe that the complaint states a claim for compensatory educational relief.”

“As we held in Burr I and Burr II and hold again today, compensatory education is a proper remedy in an appropriate situation for enforcing EHA educational rights. Since § 504 expressly allows for equitable relief, compensatory education is an appropriate remedy when it is used to enforce EHA rights.”

In 1991, the Sixth Circuit in Hall v. Knott County (KY) 941 F.2d 402 (6th Cir. 1991) addressed compensatory education in light of a statute of limitations issue. The blind child “received home instruction from the defendant board of education beginning in 1972, when she was 11 years old. The home instruction was continued beyond her 21st birthday, and she received a high school diploma at the age of 22. This lawsuit was filed five years later, when the plaintiff was 27.”

“Although the plaintiff had stated a justiciable claim for prospective compensatory education costs, she was estopped to make the claim because she and her parents had failed to assert their rights at a time when the defendants could still have complied with the Act.”

“The principal issue on appeal, which is linked to the type of relief available, is whether the action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Concluding that it was, we shall affirm the dismissal.” [Wrightslaw Note: Hall graduated on May 3, 1983. At that time all case law denied any entitlement to comp ed. This case was filed on on May 26, 1988 and Miener was the only case at that time that authorized entitlement to comp ed.]

In 1994 the Second Circuit again addressed comp ed in Garro v. Connecticut Dept. of Educ. 23 F.3d 734 (2d Cir.1994) and held that it “is unavailable to a claimant over the age of twenty-one in the absence of ‘gross’ procedural violations.”

That same year, on the west coast in a State of Washington case, the Ninth Circuit in Student v. Puyallup Sch. Dist. 31 F.3d 1489 (9th Cir.1994), found that the student “unquestionably lost time during his eighth and ninth grade years when he was not receiving special services. The plaintiffs argue that ipso facto, he is entitled to an equal amount of compensatory education, without any further analysis. But compensatory education is not a contractual remedy, but an equitable remedy, part of the court’s resources in crafting ‘appropriate relief.’ There was no showing that a general award of unspecified one and one-half years of compensatory education was appropriate.”

“There is no obligation to provide a day-for-day compensation for time missed. Appropriate relief is relief designed to ensure that the student is appropriately educated within the meaning of the IDEA. Student W. was able to graduate from high school, before reaching age 21, without more services than provided for in his annual IEP. The IDEA promises him no more.”

“To hold that the district court abused its discretion in denying compensatory relief would be to destroy the equitable nature of the district court’s charge to fashion ‘appropriate relief.’ It may be a rare case when compensatory education is not appropriate, but it was not an abuse of the district court’s discretion to decide that this case was such a rarity.”

In 1995, the Third Circuit in Carlisle Area Sch. v. Scott P. 62 F.3d 520 (3rd Cir.1995) said that “We have held that compensatory education is available to respond to situations where a school district flagrantly fails to comply with the requirements of IDEA.”

The Court removed the “bad faith / flagrant disregard” standard. “Although we do not believe that bad faith is required, most of the cases awarding compensatory education involved quite egregious circumstances. This case does not appear to be in that category.”

“The cases from other circuits which recognize compensatory education without explicitly requiring a higher degree of intent by the district have also involved more culpable conduct.”

“In any event, there was no violation shown here, since the 1991-92 IEP was not challenged and was therefore presumptively appropriate. We must therefore reverse the district court’s order insofar as it awarded six months of compensatory education for the purported inappropriateness of the 1991-92 IEP.”

Until that point in time, in order to obtain the entitlement to compensatory education, there had to be some egregious facts against the school district.

In 1996, the mindset of the Courts began to shift. In M.C. v. Central Region Sch. Dist. 81 F.3d 389 (3d. Cir.1996) the Third Circuit explained that “Under IDEA, a disabled student is entitled to free, appropriate education until he or she reaches age twenty-one. A court award of compensatory education requires a school district to provide education past a child’s twenty-first birthday to make up for any earlier deprivation.”

“In order to define the correct standard for granting compensatory education, we must delineate the threshold of deficiency in the school board’s stewardship necessary to trigger an award. Unfortunately, there is little caselaw or legal commentary to guide us. Likewise there are no New Jersey or federal regulations to direct our inquiry. While this is not the first time we have contemplated this issue, the facts of our previous cases have made our past analyses relatively straightforward.”

“Our holding can be summarized as follows: a school district that knows or should know that a child has an inappropriate IEP or is not receiving more than a de minimis educational benefit must correct the situation. If it fails to do so, a disabled child is entitled to compensatory education for a period equal to the period of deprivation, but excluding the time reasonably required for the school district to rectify the problem. We believe that this formula harmonizes the interests of the child, who is entitled to a free appropriate education under IDEA, with those of the school district, to whom special education and compensatory education is quite costly.”

“Obviously the case against the school district will be stronger if the district actually knew of the educational deficiency or the parents had complained. But a child’s entitlement to special education should not depend upon the vigilance of the parents (who may not be sufficiently sophisticated to comprehend the problem) nor be abridged because the district’s behavior did not rise to the level of slothfulness or bad faith. Rather, it is the responsibility of the child’s teachers, therapists, and administrators and of the multi-disciplinary team that annually evaluates the student’s progress to ascertain the child’s educational needs, respond to deficiencies, and place him or her accordingly.”

“Thus, J.C.’s educational deprivation appears to have lasted a long time. On remand, the district court should determine when the Central Regional knew or should have known that J.C.’s IEP was inappropriate or that he was not receiving more than de minimis educational benefit; it should also define the reasonable time within which the district should have done something about it. Compensatory education should accrue from that point forward.”

As the entitlement to compensatory education became clear, the developing issue was how much comp ed and how is it determined.

In 2000, the Eighth Circuit (of Miener fame) in Strawn v. Missouri Bd. of Ed. 210 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2000) affirmed the child’s entitlement to compensatory education and said that “we think the determination of a remedy for a year of lost education should properly lie with a state administrative panel in the first instance.”

“However, we note that Lauren may be entitled to more than just one year of compensatory education because, as the resolution conference acknowledged, ‘the optimum time for language acquisition is at a younger age than Lauren’s present age.’ Thus, we remand to the district court with an instruction to refer the matter back to the state panel for a determination of the appropriate compensatory education remedy.”

In other words, a year lost of special education could require more than a year of compensatory education.

In 2003, in Maine Sch. Admin. Dist. No. 35 v. Mr. and Mrs. R., 321 F.3d 9 (1st Cir.2003) the Court explained that “compensatory education is not an appropriate remedy for a purely procedural violation of the IDEA. In contrast, a substantive violation may give rise to a claim for compensatory relief. Here, the prospective relief that the appellants sought at the commencement of these proceedings was both procedural and substantive. Thus, a claim for compensatory education arguably lies and their case is not moot.”

Due to the passage of time in a special education appeal, some cases have become moot, in that there was no longer an ongoing controversy. Once deemed moot, some pro-child decision’s from the District Court have been vacated and thus the parent’s entitlement to recoupment of attorney’s fees has become lost. That happened twice in 2019 and the cases are discussed in our 2019 Year in Review book, scheduled for release in June, 2020.

In a case involving an Air Force family against the Dept. of Defense Education Authority G. v. Ft. Bragg Dependent Schools, 343 F.3d 295 (4th Cir.2003) the Court defined comp ed –

“Compensatory education involves discretionary, prospective, injunctive relief, crafted by a court to remedy what might be termed an educational deficit created by an educational agency’s failure over a given period of time to provide a FAPE to a student. We agree with every circuit to have addressed the question that the IDEA permits an award of such relief in some circumstances. As we explain below, because the district court’s basis for rejection of G’s compensatory education claim involved an erroneous legal conclusion, we reverse its rejection of that claim and remand for reconsideration.”

In 2005, entitlement to comp ed was not an issue, nor did it require bad faith by a school district. However, case law was unclear as to the determination of the remedy and who should make that determination. Most decisions remanded the case back to either the District Court Judge or the Hearing Officer / Administrative Law Judge to make that determination. In some of those cases, it was then sent back to the IEP Team to calculate what was needed in the form of comp ed.

The next major landmark comp ed case was Reid v. DC 401 F.3d 516 (DC Cir.2005) which closed the door on the involvement of an IEP Team in the determination of amount of comp ed and an hour for hour calculation.

“In this case, although the hearing officer made express findings regarding DCPS’s four-and-a-half-year denial of FAPE, he set forth the 810-hour award in a one-sentence ipse dixit. ‘At rate of 1 hour for each day of special education services not provided,’ he wrote, ‘DCPS is to provide 810 hours (4.5 multiplied by 180 school days) of compensatory education services to Mathew as his IEP team directs.’ The officer’s order contains neither reasoning to support this hour-per-day formula nor factual findings showing that the 810- hour result satisfied Mathew’s needs.”

Nor, regarding the other issue in this case, could the court defer to the hearing officer’s decision to delegate authority to the IEP team.

The “Rowley standard requires only that schools provide ‘some educational benefit,’ – a standard that looks to the child’s present abilities – an IEP conforming to that standard carries no guarantee of undoing damage done by prior violations. As this case demonstrates, moreover, that damage may be quite severe: according to expert testimony, Mathew not only failed to keep pace with his peers under the school district’s IEP, but actually learned ‘counterproductive’ compensatory techniques that he must now unlearn before he may advance. Consistent with Congress’s stated aim of ensuring that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected, we therefore join our sister circuits and hold that compensatory education awards fit comfortably within the ‘broad discretion’ of courts fashioning and enforcing IDEA remedies.”

“Accordingly, just as IEPs focus on disabled students’ individual needs, so must awards compensating past violations rely on individualized assessments.”

The “amount of compensatory education appropriate in Mathew’s case cannot be determined as a matter of law. Rather, designing Mathew’s remedy will require a fact-specific exercise of discretion by either the district court or a hearing officer. As to the school district, although 810 hours certainly seems like a significant award, without grounds for deference to the hearing officer we may conclude at summary judgment that this remedy was correct as a matter of law only if our review of the record reveals that any greater remedy would amount to an abuse of discretion. We cannot reach that conclusion because, drawing all inferences in Mathew’s favor, as we must at summary judgment, we have no basis for concluding that 810 hours – barely more than half of a single academic year — would suffice to make up for Mathew’s four-and-a-half years without FAPE, especially considering that during that period he developed ‘counterproductive’ reading habits.”

“As we have explained, however, whereas ordinary IEPs need only provide ‘some benefit,’ compensatory awards must do more – they must compensate.”

“On remand, the district court may solicit additional evidence from the parties and fashion an appropriate compensatory education award based on the principles outlined in this opinion. Alternatively . . . rather than exercising their right to ‘request’ consideration of additional evidence, the district court may determine that the ‘appropriate’ relief is a remand to the hearing officer for further proceedings.”

The Reids’ second challenge raises a straightforward question of law: may IDEA hearing officers authorize IEP teams to ‘reduce or discontinue’ compensatory education awards? Disagreeing with the district court, we answer no. . . . Any modified award may not delegate authority to the IEP team to reduce or discontinue the prescribed compensatory instruction.”

In 2008, compensatory education took another turn and opened the door to what became nicknamed, the “Poor Man’s Burlington Remedy.” Jarron Draper’s attorneys, Steven Wyner and Marcy Tiffany wrote an article for our website about the case and its nickname. The URL is

In Draper v. Atlanta Indep. Pub. Sch. 518 F.3d 1275 (11th Cir.2008) the Court upheld, as comp ed, four years of private school tuition, to extend well past the youngster’s 21st birthday.

The Draper case relied on Reid and both have been cited regularly through the present by courts as they write a decision about a unique comp ed remedy. In Draper, the District Court judge heard evidence and developed the remedy. The youngster had been misdiagnosed as being mentally retarded and placed into EMR classes when the youngster was in fact dyslexic.

At the time of the initial hearing, Draper was 18 years old and in the eleventh grade, but he could read at only a third-grade level.

The Court noted that “Draper had been observed writing words, letters, and numbers backwards, a classic symptom of dyslexia, and that he performed much better on verbal tasks, the evaluation performed in June 1998 was spectacularly deficient. The evaluation did not measure Draper’s phonological processing levels (which are essential to reading) nor did the evaluator review Draper’s receptive and expressive levels. Based on the limited evaluation performed, which essentially included an I.Q. test, the school psychologist concluded that [Draper] had a full scale I.Q. of 63 . . . The persistent refusal of the School System to acknowledge the substantial evidence of its misdiagnosis borders on incredible.”

“We do not read the Act as requiring compensatory awards of prospective education to be inferior to awards of reimbursement . . . The Act instead empowers the district court to use broad discretion to fashion appropriate equitable relief . . . The Act does not foreclose a compensatory award of placement in a private school. The district court was free to award Draper a placement in a private school without regard to the remedy fashioned by the administrative law judge, and Draper was not required to prove that the School System was incapable of providing him an appropriate education.”

“In our review of Draper’s award, we are mindful that an award of compensation for a violation of the Act is different from the educational program ordinarily required by the Act. An educational program must be ‘reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits . . . Although ordinary educational programs need only provide some benefit, compensatory awards must do more – they must compensate.’ Compensatory awards should place children in the position they would have been in but for the violation of the Act.”

In addition to the article by Wyner and Tiffany, we have a number of other links on our website about Draper, including the Complaint that was filed in federal court:

Draper established that educational services to provide compensatory are greater than the services for an IEP. At the time of Draper, the definition of the word “appropriate” in FAPE was based on the 1982 SCOTUS Rowley case. Now the standard includes the 2017 SCOTUS Endrew F. case.

M.C. v. Antelope Valley 858 F.3d 1189 (9th Cir.2017) a Ninth Circuit case issued just after Endrew F. emphasized that “To meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. In other words, the school must implement an IEP that is reasonably calculated to remediate and, if appropriate, accommodate the child’s disabilities so that the child can make progress in the general education curriculum, taking into account the progress of his non-disabled peers, and the child’s potential. We remand so the district court can consider plaintiffs’ claims in light of this new guidance from the Supreme Court.”

Since the 2008 Draper case, there have been a number of decisions that address comp ed, but relatively few new legal issues. To find the most recent compensatory education cases in your jurisdiction, go to

click on “Case law,” then select the Courts you wish to search, state and federal, and then enter as your search term the following, with the quotation marks:

“individuals with disabilities education act” “compensatory education”

Wrightslaw Note: This webpage was created in preparation for a May 19, 2020 webinar related to special education during the pandemic.

Three other attorneys participated – Piper Paul, Jack Robinson, and Wayne Steedman.

The webinar was hosted by Dr. Roseann and is now available through her website at:

As one of four presenters, my role was to discuss the law of compensatory education. I have converted the PowerPoint that I prepared, in order to help me prepare, to a pdf file, six slides to the page.

That PP file is located at:

Date created: 5/18/2020
Date revised: 5/26/2020


Post COVID-19 in K-12 Education Family Bill of Rights

The National Parents Union
Family Bill of Rights
Post COVID-19 in K-12 Education

The National Parents Union brings together an intersectional group of families from all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico giving space to parents of color, low-income parents, parents of children with special needs, LGBTQAI parents, single mothers and fathers, grandparents, formerly incarcerated parents and parents in recovery with traditionally represented parent voices to join a vibrant coalition that disrupts the traditional role of families in the policy space. Together with our more than 200 affiliate organizations, we develop a new narrative that is inclusive of families from a wide variety of perspectives.

The National Parents Union supports collaborative decision-making among public schools, private schools, school districts and local and state public health departments about when it is safe to open schools. These decisions will be dependent on several factors, including but not limited to:

  • Keeping Children, Families and School Communities Safe and Healthy
  • Remote/Emergency Learning
  • Personalized Trauma Learning
  • Equitable Education Financing
  • Supporting Families

The NPU Task Force on Building An Equity Infused Educational Recovery has compiled the following questions to be answered and recommendations that must be addressed prior to children and families re-engaging with our public school systems nationwide. It is our expectation that all schools implement these recommendations for all public school students in all school buildings. We further call for the individual needs of our more vulnerable populations of students and their families to be met. Finally, no schools should be exempt from these recommendations, including those already working on equity improvement plans to address long standing achievement gaps and school turnaround efforts.

Keeping Children, Families, and School Communities Safe and Healthy:
Engage with families in a collaborative, co-creation process regarding the timing and conditions needed to re-open the public school system from a health protection standpoint following the guidelines suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics to include:

  • Distribution of masks for every student and adult expected to report to a public school building with replacement at regular intervals.
  • Temperature checks for all students, educators, staff and visitors entering into public school buildings.
  • New hygiene and sanitation stations installed for regular handwashing and fully functioning bathrooms in a number that can realistically serve the population of students occupying each public school building and specific metrics around cleaning and maintenance.
    • Running water with hot water available.
    • Functioning bathrooms.
    • Hand sanitizer and soap dispensers as well as air dryers or paper towels.
    • Bathroom monitors and signage regarding recommended protocols for students, educators and staff.
    • Regularly scheduled cleaning, replenishing, and maintenance.
  • Upgraded/adapted physical plant solutions to accommodate CDC recommendations for social distancing to include:
    • Updated ventilation systems: All public school systems should be equipped with high ventilation capacity similar to healthcare facilities fitted with air exchange systems, and be located in buildings with tall ceilings. Utilize the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the school’s existing HVAC system, and adopt “clean-to-dirty” directional airflows.
    • Reduced overall classroom populations with adequate space for social distancing.
    • New classroom hygiene maintenance procedures for disinfecting general spaces with strict adherence to CDC guidelines for disinfection and utilizing disinfectants from the EPA’s List N requirements and safe training of custodial/janitorial staff according to the aforementioned guidelines,
    • Hallway and common area restrictions and disinfection procedures,
      Updated library, science lab, multipurpose and computer room usage and disinfection procedures,
    • Updated cafeteria usage procedures and disinfection procedures,
    • Updated gymnasium, locker room (including showers), athletic fields, and playground usage procedures and disinfection procedures.
    • Updated standards for how athletic teams will practice and play games, have meets, etc.
    • Updated protocols for school bus transportation
  • Health office accommodations and restrictions for students and teachers developing or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Reporting procedures for students, teachers and staff members who have tested positive for or exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Notification for the families with students who may have been exposed within 3 hours of schools being informed of exposure.
  • Clearly established procedures and protocols for 14 day quarantine following a potential exposure with guidelines around pivoting to remote learning, increased substitute teacher pools and support staff.

Remote/Emergency Learning – Now and in the future:
Students across the country may have experienced educational loss due to prolonged school closures during this pandemic. While some schools have implemented distance learning, this is not generally believed to replicate the in-person learning experience. Such schools may also experience a widened divide in academic progress, with certain children able to access distance learning and continue to grow academically, while others might experience difficulty accessing or engaging with virtual instruction.

Until the broad availability of a treatment for COVID-19 exists, there is a risk for future waves of disease impacting communities across the country; it is important that schools plan for the possibility of additional periods of school closures and prepare strategically for distance learning or other educational options. Additional considerations include:

  • Develop a comprehensive definition and plan for emergency learning/remote learning that includes training and assistance for parents, students and teachers.
  • Standard issuance of technology needed for emergency/remote learning at the beginning of the year, (including needed computer equipment, software, internet access and any other requirements.)
    • Prohibit surveillance, tracking or criminalization through the use of technologies and online platforms by school districts directly or third party partners.
    • Ensure that all distributed technology meets all hardware and software requirements necessary to handle digital learning platforms (such as google classrooms, zoom, etc), with a commitment to replace any technology that fails to meet these requirements.
  •  Require districts to provide internet access for all students by creating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to provide free internet access, at a minimum of 50 mbp/s speed for all households at no-cost.
  • Ensure that all information is protected when using educational technology and online learning platforms, and that districts are transparent with and accountable to students, parents and communities regarding how information will be gathered and shared.
  • Clearly define expectations around daily time spent engaged with academic materials.
  • Specific guidelines for families around how engagement time will be determined,
  • Specific guidelines for families around how work will be graded and how progress will be assessed when under emergency learning/remote learning guidelines.
  • All public schools must update their anti-bullying plans to have an enhanced response to and focus on cyber-bullying.

Personalized Learning Plans for a Trauma Informed Recovery:
During periods of remote learning, there should be clear expectations for how much contact each family has with teachers to communicate feedback on completed assignments, what is expected of students, what materials will be graded and how credit will be earned.

  • Develop a new comprehensive assessment system that incorporates a 360 degree view at the start of the school year to determine a child’s strengths and challenges with a new section developed to incorporate parent input to count toward 25% of weighting.
  • This assessment will be used to develop an Individualized Education Plan for re-entry and reassignment in the public school option suggested by the district and approved by a parent or guardian to include the schedule of in-person and distance learning combination suggested by the district.
  • Develop a clear, comprehensive plan for student assignment based on personalized/individual education plans to incorporate supports for students who may have deficiencies in social and/or academic areas.
  • Develop a clear, comprehensive plan for student assignment to weekly scheduling to accommodate reduced classroom populations in consultation with families.
  • Additional funding for school guidance counselors, masters-level social workers, school psychologists,
  • Work in coordination and collaboration with established online, distance and virtual school operators on best practices regarding the teaching practice, technology usage, social and academic support in development of remote learning planning.
  • Traditional district schools and public charter schools work in coordination and collaboration on best practices for extended school day, extended year, teaching practice, technology usage, social and academic support in development of remote learning planning.

Equitable education financing:
School finance must focus on the quality over quantity model in every school, from the excellence of the instruction (validated brain based research driven), services and supports, to rigor of curriculum and classes. State and local funding and spending must display equitable access to resources shown to be fundamental to a quality education. An equity infused educational recovery will require central focus and accountability around the allocation of resources:

  • Meet the needs of at-risk students and target funds to the neediest students
  • Accountability frameworks put in place to ensure that the funds are being used for their intended purpose
  • Responsibility measures that focus on student benefit not system benefit
  • External forensic or fiscal audit conducted when deemed necessary
  • Evidence based research of intended targeted group prior to requesting and allocating funds
  • Cultural congruence with ethnically matched providers must be prioritized.

Supporting Families:

Continuation of free breakfast and lunch programs (and when possible dinner) available for easy pickup in one bundled package that also includes all critical supplies (masks, hand soap and/or sanitizer) as a part of distribution.(The United States Department of Agriculture has extended significant flexibilities to states in administering school meal programs, including meal service in non-congregate settings, on weekends and with multiple days of meals distributed at once. Schools are encouraged to leverage such flexibilities to best meet the needs of families, as available at the time of school re-opening.)

  • Require districts to post as guidance for families an accessible statement and description on data usage and sharing through district agreements and partnerships for online learning in addition to the use of edtech.
  • Require districts to partner with local organizations to lead wellness check-ins on students who may need support or may be experiencing harm or abuse at home.

Guarantee multilingual access, including the translation of all materials and resources (including hotlines) developed in response to COVID-19 for Non-EFL families into Spanish and other commonly spoken languages.

Provide the same resources for students and families who are undocumented.

Fulfill their legal obligations to students with disabilities and provide those students access to tailored services as required in their Individual Education Plans (IEPs), including needed compensatory services once schools re-open as directed by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Services.

National Parents Union


Wrightslaw Special Education During a Pandemic

Register Here

Free Webinar! Special Education During the COVID-19 Quarantine

May 19, 2020 – 7 pm EST/4pm PST

Parents have so many questions about their child’s special education rights and needs in this time of quarantine.

Join Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge and four special ed attorneys – Pete Wright, Piper Paul, Wayne Steedman, and Jack Robinson – who will teach us what the laws are and how you can help your child RIGHT NOW.

Pete Wright and these amazing attorneys will answer:

🔹What is the federal law during the COVID-19 quarantine?

🔹What is compensatory education?

🔹How can parents advocate for their child right now?

🔹Need for data points: The how and why of evaluations and collecting data.

Register Now! This FREE Webinar Will Fill Up!

Please give the Special Education Law During the COVID-19 Quarantine Webinar

a big loud shout-out on social media!

See you there!


Office of Special Education (OSE) Resources

For Special Education Resources During COVID-19: visit, and click Learning At Home then Special Education.

For Special Education questions, please call or email us at and a member of the Special Education team will be in touch with you.

For School Closure Requests for Support please complete the Google Form here.

For Boston Neighborhood Network (BNN) videos from BPS teachers and staff visit


International Dyslexia Association, MA Branch Webinar

Supporting Your Struggling Reader During the Pandemic:
A Webinar for Parents

These are challenging times, but our struggling readers need us now more than ever. In this hour-long webinar for parents, three guest experts provide timely tools and information for navigating special education services, supporting reading progress at home, and tackling the unprecedented parenting demands of the coronavirus crisis.

Navigating Special Education Services

Michael Gregory, JD, MAT
Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Member of the Faculty, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Michael Gregory is Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he
teaches and serves as the Managing Attorney of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI), a joint program of Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) and Harvard Law School. He co-teaches Harvard’s Education Law Clinic, in which law students provide special education representation to individual families where traumatic experiences are interfacing with a student’s disabilities and inhibiting effective progress at school. TLPI also pursues a larger public policy agenda through systemic advocacy to create trauma-sensitive schools. Mike and his husband Matt live in Hyde Park and are the proud parents of 4-year-old Isabella and Roscoe the Goofy Golden Retriever.

Supporting Reading Progress at Home

Dinan Messiqua, MA, MEd, Certified-OG
Special Education Consultant
Communications Chair, International Dyslexia Association MA Branch

Dinan Messiqua is a special education consultant with over 15 years experience working with parents, teachers and educators in public and private schools. She coaches parents on how to navigate the complexities of the special education system, and consults to teachers and school administrators in the Boston area. A former special educator in Brookline Public Schools, she worked within a district-wide language-based program and coached general education teachers before joining the Carroll School in Lincoln, MA as a middle school language arts teacher and Orton-Gillingham tutor. She serves on the Board of Directors for the International Dyslexia Association MA Branch, where she chairs the Communications Committee. Visit her online at Dinan lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband and two daughters and enjoys yoga, singing, and theater.

Coping with COVID-Related Stress and Anxiety

Ellen O’Donnell, PhD
Child Psychologist, MassGeneral Hospital for Children & Harvard Medical School
Director of Clinical Psychology Services, Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston

Ellen O’Donnell is a child psychologist at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Shriners Hospitals for  Children, Boston, as well as an instructor at Harvard Medical School. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters on topics in child psychology, such as learning disabilities, coping with a child’s or parent’s medical illness, and positive parenting practices to prevent depression and anxiety in children. Ellen lives in Concord, Massachusetts with her husband and their two boys, who find ways to pull her away from reading books and doing yoga to learn to ski, fish, paddleboard, hike and build stuff in the woods.

Register Now!


4_30_20 SpEd PAC General Virtual Meeting

This meeting starts with Melanie R. Jarboe & Alicia Warren – Special Education Attorneys at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong. The first part of the presentation is about Transition. At 31:10 mins the presentation addresses COVID-19.
Marcia Fitzpatrick, Assistant Director of Transition Services starts her presentation at 49:45.
At 1:06:49 min the Q&A with Kotin, Crabtree & Strong attorneys, and district Special education leadership starts with a Transition question and COVID-19 questions follow.


Federation for Children with Special Needs

Guidance from DESE

DESE presentation to Special Educators 04.03.2020

COVID-19 FAQ for schools and districts regarding Special Education 03.26.2020

Stay Connected to the Federation, we are here to help!

The Federation is open and we are working remotely to provide information and resources for families and the professionals who serve them. These are challenging times, so please stay in touch, we will get through this together!

Send us your Questions or Concerns – Please take a minute to fill out this quick needs survey to help us understand what is going on across the state during this time of remote learning. The Federation would like to know how families are interacting with their schools and how we can best serve our families.

Phone: 617-236-7210 or 800-331-0688 and Family TIES: 800-905-8437

Email: or go to Online Intake Form:

Follow the Federation on Facebook @fcsnfb and watch our daily Livestream!

Watch the latest Webinars:

In light of the challenges we are hearing from our families, the Federation has joined with SPaN and the Arc to address some of the concerns about school closures and the effect it is having on students with special needs.

I have attached our joint letter to DESE. Pam Nourse, Executive Director, FCSN

Questions during this pandemic?
  • Call Family TIES for community resources and referral information on Early Intervention at 800-905-8437.
  • Call FCSN Call Center with questions on special education or health care needs at 800-331-0688
  • Or fill out the form on the Federation’s website. Online Form
Update on COVID-19 Co-hosted by SPaN and FCSN.
Daily Facebook Livestreamsj
Information and Support in 10 minutes or less 2:00pm
Monday – Friday
MassPAC Monday
Transition Tuesday
Wellness Wednesday
Thriving Thursday
Facts Friday
Wednesday, April 15th 10:30am, Presenters: Robert Crabtree, Esq. and Michele G. Scavongelli, Esq. Moderated by Lisa Lapinski, Esq. and Tim Sindelar, Esq. Join us for our third COVID-19 Webinar. Our focus will include providing tools and strategies for advocates and families for getting services during school closures. We will also discuss effective communication with schools, and answer the most common questions advocates are raising.
(This session has reached capacity but is scheduled to be recorded)
Presenter: Chandler Creedon – Translating Assessments to something meaningful
This series is for Special Education Surrogate Parent, PCTI trained Parent Consultant or SEPAC Officer
Become a Special Education Surrogate Parent SESP. SESPs serve as appointed decision makers that have the legal authority of a parent or legal guardian to participate in special education process for eligible students in the care or custody of the state or whose parents are unknown or unavailable. (3 hours)
Presenter: Yulika Forman, PhD, The Expert Ally. This webinar will provide considerations and specific strategies for supporting children on the spectrum at home during school closure related to COVID-19. It will be informative for parents and other caregivers, as well as professionals who are supporting families through this new reality.  (1 hour)
Online Learning
Leslie Leslie from MassPAC had the opportunity to meet remotely with Attorney Annette Hines and record a podcast on the Power of Special Education Parent Advisory Councils. You can access the 30 minute podcast at: Podcast Access
Basic Rights in Special Education
FCSN will be recording special webinars, breaking each of our Basic Rights in Special Education presentations into four 20 minute online workshops for families and professionals to view at home. The presentation slides for each of the FCSN Basic Rights series of workshops can be found at – search for “FCSN”.
Please check our FCSN Facebook page @fcsnfb this week for links to these webinars:
  • Part 1 – Referral, Consent and Evaluation
  • Part 2 – The Team Meeting and Eligibility Determination

MatchUS Seeking Families to match with Educators

Dear Families & Educators/Related Service Providers,

We have made over 100 matches this week! We are continuing to receive requests from families in need, and educators/related service providers eager to support. We hope to have you matched within the next few days. We appreciate your patience.

Right now, we have many educators/related service providers eager to help and we NEED more FAMILIES to match with the number of educators we have.

Please continue to share the links below with your family and education networks

Thank you for your support.

In gratitude,
The MatchUS Team

MatchUS is an community-driven educator/related service provider and family response to support our students (and their families!) with disabilities/IEPs/support needs during this time of social distancing. MatchUS, an effort supported by Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change, is working with families and educators ANYWHERE (not just MA) to support 1:1 conversations about how best to support our students at home.

O. Sophia Johansson
Northeast Regional Coordinator
Co-Chair, Board of Directors
Mass Families Organizing for Change
m: 617.935.2264

A statewide, grassroots coalition in
support of individuals with disabilities
and/or chronic illnesses and their families.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “MFOFC Board of Directors” group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to
To view this discussion on the web visit


Special Education Guidance From DESE

COVID-19 Information and Resources HERE

This page will provide information for schools about the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), and will be updated as additional guidance is available. For comprehensive emergency management planning information and related resources, visit the emergency management planning for schools web pages.

School Meals

On March 12, the USDA approved Massachusetts’ waiver request to allow schools where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals to continue providing meals to students during a school closure. We also received approval to have these meals served in an appropriate format, such as a “grab-and-go” option, for students to take home.

On March 13, DESE sent out detailed guidance to all school districts and existing USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors detailing how to be approved to serve meals during a school closure and what the USDA reimbursement options are. Community-based organizations that participated in SFSP during summer 2019 are eligible to serve and claim meals for reimbursement to help supplement school districts’ meal distribution effort.

Schools that have a student free and reduced-price percentage under 50 percent can choose to provide meals at their own discretion during a school closure, but DESE cannot currently approve those meals for USDA reimbursement. Therefore, non-federal funds must be used to cover costs at this time. These schools should focus on households of enrolled free and reduced-price students and ensure that proper meal counting and adherence to the federal meal pattern is maintained in the event we receive new USDA guidance allowing federal reimbursement.

Schools need to contact their assigned DESE School Nutrition or Special Nutrition (SFSP option) Program consultants to discuss how to be approved for USDA reimbursement.

As meal distribution sites are approved, DESE will work with Project Bread to ensure the public is notified of student meal site locations and service times. In the meantime, please promote meal sites locally.

Counselors at Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 are available to connect your community to food resources in their community as well as provide them with information about elder meals programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. The hotline will continue to operate Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and can provide information in 160 languages.

Non-congregate meal site information can now be found through Project Bread’s School Closure Meal Site Finder

DESE Resources:

School Closure Process:

As of March 16, 2020, all public and private K-12 schools (except residential and day schools that serve students with disabilities) will be closed starting March 17 and will not reopen before April 6. Schools or districts that decide to be closed beyond those parameters are asked to:

  1. Contact their local Board of Health. District leaders may also wish to call DPH’s 24/7 epidemiology at 617-983-6800 but should be aware of the large volume of calls coming into that number.
  2. Contact Associate Commissioner Helene Bettencourt at  or 781-338-3120.

Large Events:

On March 13, 2020, Governor Baker issued an emergency order prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 individuals beginning on March 17 and effective until April 6.

180 School Day Requirement:

In light of concerns about possible school closings for public health reasons, Commissioner Riley has updated DESE’s guidance about the requirement for 180 days of school to provide relief to districts. (Note: The Department will continue to revisit this guidance if the situation warrants it.):

  1. All days lost to health, weather, or safety emergencies between the first day of the school year and March 15 must be made up by rescheduling full school days to ensure a 180-day school year.
  2. All days lost to health, weather, or safety emergencies between March 16 and June 1 must be made up to ensure a 180-day school year or until the district has reached its previously-scheduled 185th day, whichever comes first. If all five snow days have been used prior to this point, the district is not required to scheduled additional school days.
  3. Districts will not be expected to make up any days lost to health, weather, or safety emergencies that occur after June 1.

This change means that if you have already canceled school for five days before March 15, you do not need to schedule additional make-up days for any days that school is closed after March 15. The longest that any school district will be required to go is its scheduled 185th day. No schools will be required to be in session after June 30. This policy applies to the current (2019-20) school year only. Anyone who feels that they have special circumstances should contact Associate Commissioner Helene Bettencourt at  or 781-338-3120.