Frequently asked questions
What Steps Should Parents Take to Get Compensatory Education?
STEP 1 – CONTACT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT:
Contact the school district to ask for compensatory education. The request should be in writing such as an email, letter, or note. In that request, you should ask for a Prior Written Notice if the district refuses to provide Compensatory Education. You should keep a copy of their request and also keep a copy of what the school sends back.
STEP 2 – THE IEP MEETING:
Someone from the school district should contact you and set up an IEP meeting. At the meeting, the IEP team should talk about:
» What instruction and related services did your child receive during distance learning? Are there documents showing the services your child received? Parent logs of services that your child received should be considered.
» Were the services and instruction the same as what was on your child’s IEP? Did your child regress (lose) skills because of missed instruction and/or services? Was your child able to make progress on his or her IEP goals?
» Are any new or updated evaluations needed?
» If the school district did not provide services that were on the IEP or your child has lost skills (regressed), what services are needed to help your child get to where he or she needs to be?
STEP 3 – MAKE SURE THE DECISION IS IN WRITING:
If the IEP team, including the you, agrees that your child needs compensatory education, you should receive a document called a “Prior Written Notice” or a letter which tells the you exactly what compensatory education your child will get and when it will be provided.
If the district does not provide an explanation of what compensatory education it will provide, you should ask for this record.
What if the Parent and District Disagree about Compensatory Education?
You can file a written signed complaint to the Californai Deparment of Education (CDE) to investigate allegations in which the complainant believes the public agency (e.g. student’s school district) has violated special education law or regulation, federal or state. Complaints may concern one child or student, or a group of students.
Learn more about this process by
clicking on this link.
What should be included in a letter requesting compensatory education?
Name of School District Special Education Director
Name of School District
Address of School
E-Mail or Fax Number of School District Special Education Director
Dear (School District Special Education Director Name):
I am the parent of (Child’s Name), date of birth (XX/XX/XXXX) and who is a student in the (X) grade at (Name of School) school.
My child was not able to access their special education instruction and related services as a result of the COVID-19 school closure due to the nature of his/her disability.
I am requesting an IEP meeting to discuss compensatory education services for my child. I can be reached at the above numbers to discuss this matter further. I look forward to working with the school district to discuss my child’s needs further.
cc: (List of other people to whom you are sending this letter)
What is compensatory education?
Compensatory education is a legal remedy that requires a school district to provide services that make up for services that it was required to provide but did not. It is a remedy that is awarded to “compensate” the student for education that the student should have received. The school district can provide these services directly or pay someone else to give them to the student.
When a school district owes compensatory education, it may not make sense to make up for what was lost by providing the exact number of hours or type of service that were listed on the IEP. Instead, the goal of compensatory education is to help the student catch up
to where he or she would have been if the services on the IEP had been provided to the student. That means that it may be reasonable to provide some other sort of service or support.
When is a student entitled to compensatory education?
Compensatory education is a legal remedy that is owed whenever there is a violation of a student’s rights to FAPE because required services were not provided. That includes during periods of distance learning. When students with disabilities are entitled to compensatory education, it must be based on their individual needs and circumstances.
Many state departments of education recognize that students with disabilities may need additional “catch-up” services when they return to school buildings because of COVID-19 related disruption in education. School districts may refer to these services as “compensatory services”. Be aware that districts may reject using the term “compensatory education” to address a student’s needs for increased services due to distance learning’s impact. Some districts may even request that you sign a waiver giving up your right to request compensatory education at a later time.
PLEASE DO NOT SIGN A COMPENSATORY EDUCATION WAIVER WITHOUT CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY.
What is extended school year (ESY)?
ESY is not “Summer School”. Extended school year services are not the same as summer school. Summer school is a general education program open to all students. With over $4.6 Billion in extra cash, many California school districts offered summer school this year. Los Angeles Unified, for example, offered in-person summer school to all of its students, regardless of whether they had an IEP.
While “summer school” is general education, ESY is special education. Extended school year services must be provided if a child's IEP Team determines that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE. It “extends” the IEP’s services and supports from the regular school year into the summer. For example, if your child receives specialized instruction and related services such as speech or behavioral therapy under his IEP, that programming would generally extend into the summer. ESY is typically included in an IEP if the child would regress in learned skills during an extended break.
What other steps can parents take to manage learning loss?
Find an appropriate program. Try to focus on your child’s primary areas of need or regression. For example, if your child has dyslexia, you may want to identify a program or tutor with training and experience in teaching students with that type of learning disability. Get help from friends, family, community supports, Regional Centers and child advocacy services in locating a tutor or “learning loss” program.
Keep your receipts for all tuition and related costs, such as books, software, mileage, etc.
Notify the school district or charter school. No less than 10 days before the start of the “learning loss” program, notify the school district or charter school in writing of your intention to place your child in the program and your expectation that the district/charter will pay for it. Keep a copy of the “10-day Notice” for your records.
After your child has started with her “learning loss” program, demand reimbursement (or direct payment) from the school district or charter school. Again, keep a copy of your “Demand Letter” for your records. Follow-up (in writing) in 2 weeks if you don’t get a response.
If the school district or charter school refuses to pay, you may want to file a Compliance Complaint with the State Department of Education. Attach the IEP that promises ESY, as well as the 10-day Notice and Demand letters, including follow-ups. Also provide receipts to support your request for payment of the learning loss program. Request mediation (available in California) as part of your Compliance Complaint. Expect a resolution within 60 days.