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OCR Announces Resolution Agreement with L.A. Schools over Remote-Learning Related Services to Students with IEPs and 504 Plans

Education K-12 Education

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) recently announced a resolution agreement with  the Los Angeles Unified School District largely addressing issues related to OCR’s finding that the District failed to provide services identified in students’ IEPs and 504 plans during remote-learning. The agreement resolves OCR’s investigation into whether the District provided FAPE to students with disabilities and whether it provided services pursuant to students’ IEP and Section 504 plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through its investigation, OCR found in relevant part that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district limited special education services based on considerations other than the students’ individual educational needs, failed to accurately or sufficiently track services, took the position that the district was not responsible for providing compensatory education because the district was not at fault for the closure, and failed to develop and implement a plan adequate to remedy the instances in which students with disabilities were not provided FAPE during remote learning.

Under the agreement, the District agrees to develop and implement a plan to appropriately assess and provide compensatory education to students with disabilities who did not receive FAPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, and convene IEP and Section 504 teams to determine whether students were not provided the regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet their individual needs during remote learning and determine compensatory education.

Combating the demands and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to meet the needs of students with disabilities under their IEPs and 504 plans has been a focus for school districts throughout this State and the nation. The Los Angeles case serves as an important reminder for IEP and 504 teams to continue to ensure services are provided as required under students’ IEPs and 504 plans even where in-person learning or staffing plans are disrupted, and to provide compensatory education where necessary. OCR’s recently released fact sheet, on which we previously reported, contains further guidance on providing FAPE during the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing the need for compensatory services under Section 504.

If you have questions about OCR’s resolution agreement, or the issues addressed in the agreement, please contact your Franczek attorney.