AdvocacyDenver has received many questions from parents/guardians of children with disabilities regarding what to expect beginning in August 2020. We know that Denver Public Schools announced that remote instruction has been extended from August 24 through October 16.
AdvocacyDenver has kept a record of questions and has been working with the Special Education Director Robert Frantum-Allen to define a response to questions.
The following reflects the current thinking on the part of the District. This is a start in terms of questions and answers specific to children with disabilities.
This document will be amended and will include additional questions and answers in relation to Behavior Intervention Plans, English Language Acquisition services, facility programs, assistive technology and children eligible under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. If you have a question that is not included in this document, you are encouraged to call (303-831-7733) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: We have a young child that that we suspect has a disability but is not old enough to be enrolled in school. Can the District evaluate my child during Covid-19?
A: Denver Public Schools (“DPS”) Early Childhood Child Find team and Rocky Mountain Human Services work together to provide developmental screenings and evaluate children birth through age 2 who are at risk for or with a disability. Furthermore, DPS Early Childhood Child Find team evaluates children before they turn 3 to determine whether or not they are the eligible as a child with a disability under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). A multi-disciplinary team made up of teachers, psychologist, social workers, motor therapists, and speech language therapist will use developmentally appropriate evaluation techniques, most of which is can done remotely. Although the team has been conducting assessments remotely since April 2020 the Team recognizes not all families have access to technology. If you know of a family with a young child who has been waiting for an initial evaluation but do not have internet or technology, please have them contact DPS Child Find to identify next steps to complete the evaluation. Finally, developmental screenings are currently available. For information in relation to a developmental screening or a pending evaluation, or an initial evaluation of your child is not enrolled in a public school please call: 720-423-1410
Q: I requested that my child be evaluated (initial evaluation) to determine if he/she is eligible as a student with a disability under the IDEA. The school started the evaluation but then went on extended break. What is the timeline for completing the evaluation?
A: The school has 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation and determine if your child is eligible under IDEA. If the team (of which you are a member) determines your child meets the eligibility criteria for one of the disability categories, the team has 30 more days to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and make an offer of a free, appropriate public education. As a result of Covid-19, DPS admits that for some children, the initial evaluation and eligibility has not happened within the given timeline. When school staff return August 2020, the District has advised the school team to reach out to the family and discuss the evaluations that have been completed and for the parent and the school team to determine additional evaluation or information is needed in order to determine eligibility. If enough information has been gathered, the IEP team will convene and determine eligibility. If the team determines that your child is eligible, the Team will schedule a meeting to develop an IEP. The IEP will be written in anticipation of the child returning for in-school instruction. If your child continues remote learning, the Team will also develop a Contingency Plan. The Contingency Plan will identify distance services and goals that can be addressed remotely.
Q: I provided the school with a copy of an evaluation that was completed by a private provider. Can the school use that information to determine eligibility under IDEA?
A: The school can and should consider the private evaluation when determining eligibility under IDEA. The parent is advised to provide the school with a copy of the evaluation. The Team (which includes the parent) will determine if additional evaluation is needed and identify next steps to determine eligibility.
Q: My child has transitioned to a new school and the reevaluation is due in the fall, who will complete the reevaluation?
A: Although work is being done to introduce tele-evaluation (like telehealth) most formal evaluations cannot be performed remotely. Checklists like the BASC, Vineland, etc. can be completed at home and submitted, but the staff completing checklists must have worked with the student directly for the last 6 months. Having said that, formal evaluation may not be needed to re-determine eligibility. The team could simply complete a review of records and determine that the student continues to be eligible under the IDEA based on that review.
The team might simply record the services, goals and accommodations from the last IEP. Once students return to a brick and mortar school the team will be in a position to get to know your student’s strengths and needs and tease out what, if any evaluations might be needed and to update goals, objectives, accommodations and services in the least restrictive environment.
Remote, In-School, or Hybrid?
Q: My child did not do well with remote learning, screen time was not meaningful, does the district have something different to offer this year?
A: School teams have been advised to consider the following when developing the Contingency
- Can the student operate the technology independently and/or with limited assistance?
- Is the content available and understandable?
- Can the digital content be utilized via various technology supports (e.g., built-in speech totext, text to speech, etc.)?
- Are the demands of executive function skills supported?
The district decision to do remote learning is based on health guidance from the Denver Department of Public Health. In order to maintain safety for both students and adults, The District will to abide by these recommendations. Your IEP team can work with you to attempt to problem solve these types of situations while maintaining the health and safety protocols.
Q: My child has one-on-one paraprofessional support in the school setting; can that staff come to my home and provide one-on-one support for remote learning?
A: Based upon recommendations from the Denver Health Department, in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, currently the District does not allow any staff to work directly with a student in either the school or home setting. When the district is allowed to resume in-person or 100% remote option, then the IEP team, that includes the parent/guardian, will determine what is needed for the student. This might include a hybrid model or access to some in- person services including 1:1 paraprofessional support. If the parent makes a decision that they want their child to continue to participate in remote learning first semester of the 2020 school year and the Denver Department of Health will allow in-person interactions, the IEP team will consider on a case-by-case basis whether paraprofessional support will be provided to the student in the home. This offer will be recorded in the Contingency Plan and will include the number of hours this staff will work with your child each week. The paraprofessional will not be responsible for providing instruction, but can facilitate the child’s participation in on-line instruction and completion of classroom work. An adult over the age of 21 must be in the home the entire time. The family must provide a dedicated space for the adult to work with their child. It is important to note that the adult coming to your home might not be the same adult who worked with your child at school. Finally, if stay at home orders are issued, in home support will stop and all students will be offered virtual instruction.
Q: My child has significant needs and screen time with an adult was not meaningful and/or appropriate for my child. Will the District be able to offer my child something different in August, or September?
A: The District has prioritized bringing different populations of students back to school. Students with moderate to profound disabilities is one of the first groups that the District is considering to safely bring back to school.
Some of the considerations the district is using to determine the return to in-person learning for students with significant needs may include:
- Students might attend school 4 days a week or half days
- Eligible students will continue to receive transportation;
- Children will stay with the same cohort of learners and will not travel to otherclassrooms for inclusion or electives
- Some related services might be delivered remotely or through live-streaming into theclassroom;
- If a member of the cohort (student or adult) tests positive for COVID-19, students andstaff will quarantine at home for 14 days. The District in consultation with medicalpartners will determine when it is safe for the cohort to return to school.
- If stay at home orders are issued by the Denver Department of Health or a state widestay at home order is issued, all students will return to remote learning.
Q: My child spends the most of their day in the general education classroom and either travels to work with the special education teacher or other related service providers or they come into the classroom to work with my child. If the District offers in-school instruction will the school provide the services in the setting identified in my child’s IEP?
A: When school resumes, your child will be assigned to a general education classroom; the teacher and students in that classroom become a cohort. This assignment would allow your child to stay with the same cohort of learners and adults. It is important to note that your child’s schedule, school day or week will be different:
- Students might attend school 4 days a week or half days
- Eligible students will continue to receive transportation;
- Children will stay with the same cohort of learners and will not travel to another classroom for special education or related services. Instead the provider will livestream services, or work with your child and if appropriate other students in the same cohort in the general education classroom or in a safe area just outside of the classroom
Some related services may be delivered remotely:
- If a member of the cohort (student or adult) tests positive for COVID-19, students and staff will quarantine at home for 14 days. The District in consultation with medical partners will determine when it is safe for the cohort to return to school.
- If stay at home orders are issued all students will return to remote learning.
Q: My child will continue to participate in remote learning. Last year the school developed a Contingency Plan and defined a schedule for special education and related services. Services were not scheduled to allow my child to participate in general education instruction. As a result, my child missed instruction, but was still expected to complete independent work. Furthermore, the general education assignments were not accommodated or modified as appropriate. Will the school coordinate a more appropriate schedule for my child? Who is responsible for providing accommodations and modifications?
A: School staff and professionals facilitating remote learning will be provided dedicated planning each day. Time will be carved out to collaborate/coordinate student’s schedules. The general education teacher will be provided a copy of your child’s Contingency Plan and a list of adaptations. The general education teacher is expected to provide the accommodations; the special education teacher (and when appropriate) related service providers are responsible for modifying materials/assignments. Make sure you address these concerns with your school principal. Parents can also expect that the teacher:
- Will provide the family with a calendar of activities;
- A laminated schedule that allows the parent and student to check off daily activities
- Will copy the parent on any emails sent to the student
- Will provide the parent with a copy of passwords
- Will be available to problem solve.
Q: My child is in high school, will my child be allowed to attend school an additional year to earn credits needed and to receive Compensatory Services?
Q: How and when will the school calculate compensatory services?
A: The IEP team will determine compensatory services that will be provided to make up for services missed during COVID 19. If your child is in high school, it is important to consider the number of credits your child has earned and their course of study. For student’s ECE through high school, the IEP team will meet to discuss compensatory services (special education and related services). The Team will not simply calculate the exact amount of services minutes identified on the IEP, instead the team will identify services that will place your child in the same position they would have been in if a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) had been provided during COVID-19. Because compensatory services are individualized, more minutes or fewer minutes may be needed to for the student to recoup academic, social emotional and or language skills.