Lawyer Monthly - July 2022

A growing number of parents and guardians are suing schools and state education departments for failing to meet special needs. In your opinion, what reasons are behind this trend? What can schools do to protect themselves from legal action? The onset of the pandemic made school districts nationwide vulnerable to pandemic-related special education litigation as the disruptions in face-to-face learning prevented many students with disabilities from receiving appropriate instruction. As schools pivoted to virtual learning, they were unable to provide all of the special education supports and services that some students require to access the curriculum and receive FAPE. While schools tried to determine how to provide these critical supports virtually, many students with disabilities experienced interruptions in instruction or a complete loss of learning until in-person learning resumed. Once schools returned to in-person learning, students with disabilities expected schools to address the learning loss and denial of FAPE immediately by providing plans for compensatory services and extended learning opportunities. However, as many schools suddenly faced widespread teacher and staff resignation, in addition to debates on whether to require vaccinations and masks for students and staff, and how to address the financial impacts of pandemic learning, students have been forced to initiate litigation to make sure that their right to receive FAPE is not lost in the chaos of pandemic education. Legally speaking, what is the different between an Individualised Education Program (IEP) protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and a 504 Plan protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act? When students require accommodations WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | JUL 2022 MY LEGAL LIFE - NICOLE HULL 18 The most challenging aspect of winning a special education lawsuit against the school district is understanding the laws and policies that govern special education in your locality and selecting the right set of authority to advance your argument.

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