Author: Anisa Pillai, Attorney at Law
Senate Bill (SB) 98, the education omnibus budget trailer bill, which was chaptered on June 29, 2020, makes several changes to the laws governing the provision of special education to children in California in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Individualized Education Programs
Specifically, SB 98 made changes to Education Code section 56345 which governs the contents of and requirements for individualized education programs (IEP). An IEP is a written document that is developed for each public school student who is eligible for special education. An IEP must be reviewed annually and developed in accordance with both federal and state law. Pursuant to Education Code section 56345, an IEP must include various elements, including, but not limited to, a statement regarding a child’s present levels, a statement of measurable annual goals, a description of the manner in which the progress of the pupil toward meeting the annual goals will be measured, and a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids to be provided to the child.
SB 98 now requires an IEP to include a description of the means by which the IEP will be provided under emergency conditions, including fire, flood, epidemic, and earthquake, in which instruction or services, or both, cannot be provided to the pupil either at the school or in person for more than ten school days.
Pursuant to SB 98, this emergency description must include the following information:
- Special education and related services
- Supplementary aids and services;
- Transition services, as defined in Education Code 563451; and
- Extended school year services pursuant to 34 C.FR. 300.106
SB 98 requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to take into account public health orders when designing and implementing these emergency descriptions. Furthermore, this new requirement applies to the development of an initial IEP or the next regularly scheduled revision of an IEP.
Extended School Year (ESY)
Section 96 of SB 98 specifies that an LEA may claim apportionment for distance learning during summer 2020. Specifically, pursuant to Section 96, an LEA may claim apportionment for ESY services for pupils with disabilities offered through distance learning for the summer 2020 (defined as the period of time between the end of an LEA’s 2019-2020 academic year and June 30, 2020). LEAs may claim apportionment under the following conditions:
- The time value of the pupil’s work products shall be determined by the certified teacher assigned to the child for ESY and shall be equivalent to the day requirements specified in 5 C.C.R. 3043, and the equivalent in time value to a minimum day pursuant to Education Code §§ 46112, 46113, 46117 and 46141, for each day that attendance is claimed, unless otherwise specified in a child’s IEP to meet the child’s unique needs; and
- The pupil’s work must be aligned with the goals in the pupil’s IEP to promote measurable progress and completed by the established due date.
As special education laws and guidance change rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that LEAs make every effort to comply with new mandates in a timely manner.