The Big Questions About Child Find and Evaluations During and After COVID-19

Once schools begin to provide distance learning opportunities to any students, they have a duty to provide special education services to students with disabilities under IDEA and Section 504.

Along with the duty to provide free appropriate public education (FAPE)—in whatever altered form may be appropriate to protect the health of students, staff, and the community at large—a school district’s duties for Child Find, initial evaluations, and reevaluations all continue.

Getting accurate, valid test results is critical to making the right decisions about eligibility and services if the student qualifies for special education. COVID-19 complicates everything.

Observations in the classroom are an essential component in many evaluations, and many of these assessment instruments require in-person interaction with the student for the results to be valid.

If a parent requests an initial evaluation, the district must respond within a specific time under state law. The social distancing protocols and remote learning that coronavirus has foisted upon us leaves many in the education world with more questions than answers.

The big question: Are there ways to meet our obligations to our students while schools are closed to in-person instruction?

For evaluations that cannot be completed during school closures, districts will be obligated to conduct them once in-person instruction resumes.

  • How will IDEA and Section 504 evaluation timelines apply to these pending evaluations?
  • Will there be enough school staff to complete all of them simultaneously?
  • Should there be a consideration of additional services for initial evaluations that were delayed due to school closures?

Janet Horton and Ashley Addo of Thompson & Horton LLP will tackle these questions in the webinar below. They have been advising school districts on how to navigate these issues from the very beginning of this global health crisis.

They’ll address the myriad questions about evaluation issues and offer practical suggestions and guidance to help your school district continue to serve students with disabilities.

Webinar: It’s a New Path: Child Find and Evaluations during and after COVID-19View the presentation slides (pdf), provided by the presenter.

Legal disclaimer

The information provided during this webinar series is for educational purposes only to facilitate a general understanding of the law or other regulatory matter. This information is neither an exhaustive treatment on the subject nor is this intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney or other professional advisor. Consult with your attorney or professional advisor to apply these principles to specific fact situations. The views and opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Texas Association of School Boards, Inc., its affiliated entities, or its officers, board members, or employees.

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