On March 25, 2021, the LAUSD Board of Education held its first Special Education Committee meeting since January 2020.
The Committee presented on several topics, including preparations for reopening, supports during distance learning, and dyslexia support. Notably, the Committee reported on the transition back to in-person assessments and noted that, moving forward, assessments can be done in-person, remotely, or a combination of the two. The Committee also discussed the implementation of the Orton-Gillingham approach to literacy, including teacher training. The Committee reported an overall level of success with distance learning, with most families being happy with the support received.
When it came time for public comment, the statements of the parents, students, and special education attorneys who had waited for nearly three hours to be heard told a very different story. Unfortunately, by this time, several Committee members had left the meeting. Multiple parents said that, while the distance learning supports presented on by the Committee sounded great, those supports had not been available to their children. Parents spoke about how their children had been denied support in distance learning, including supports that were written into their IEPs and which they were entitled to receive. Parents spoke about how much their children struggled during distance learning and how LAUSD did not rise to meet their chidlren’s needs. One student commented that, while he was provided a one-to-one aide in distance learning, the aide did not help him and was just another face on the screen.
Several special education attorneys affiliated with the California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy, including our own Diana Maltz, spoke about their concerns with distance learning and the return to in-person school based on their clients’ experiences, as well as what they hoped to see from LAUSD moving forward. Topics included learning loss, missed related services, respecting parents’ choice to send their children back to school or keep them at home, in-person assessments and services, supporting dyslexia programs, mental health, and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on students of color and with disabilities.
As schools move toward reopening, the Law Offices of Hirji & Chau is here to address parents’ concerns about sending their kids back to school and ensuring that they receive sufficient support to compensate for learning loss during the pandemic and to promote success moving forward.