A Guest Post by Kimberly Caputo

Many school boards are meeting to review stakeholder input, State health and education department information, and guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) relating to the start of the 2020-1 school year. Although this is a Summer of unprecedented change and challenge, there are steps you as a parent/caregiver can take to move forward proactively and positively on the education road map for your child.

With all that is going on in communities, homes, and workplaces, now is a good time to take a breath and REFRESH with some fundamentals and considerations to help you prepare and plan for the upcoming school year.

STEP 1: What is the plan in my district?

To get a handle on what your district/charter has decided to do with the September 2020 school opening go the central web page, school opening page and/or COVID-19 page for up to date information. Many districts have made at least short term plans for the first marking period; however, if a decision has not yet been made, log into your School’s Board page to get information on what the administration is asking the board to approve.

Here are some links that can help you get started:

Some districts are giving parents a choice in terms of 100% virtual, virtual and some level of face-face instruction, and some are moving forward with an all virtual model.  In the event your district is presenting a choice, now is a great time to consider your child and the options being offered. Grab a notebook, journal, or if you are tech savvy, open a note taking app we are moving to STEP 2– “reflection starters” that may help you formulate next steps for your child.

STEP 2:  Focus and Reflect on your Child

1. REVISIT: Pull out the IEP/Evaluation/Reevaluation from the 2019-20 school year.  This was the road map that was interrupted in March 2020.

  • Jot down your understanding of your child’s academic, communication, social, behavior, transition objectives at that time (March 2020)
  • How was your child moving toward those objectives?
  • 1- not at all
  • 2- somewhat
  • 3- overall moving forward
  • What strategies, instructional techniques, interventions were working and what wasn’t successful?

2. REVIEW: As of April 1, 2020 most Districts were in the process of providing some level of instruction/related services. Make some notes on:

  • What was the “new” plan for your child’s education April through June 2020?
  • What did “teaching” look like and what was successful(or not) for your child?
  • Were there related services (Speech; Occupational therapy, social skills, counseling) and opportunities to interact (even virtually) with others (peers, therapists, teachers)?
  • Did you, a caregiver, or other adult have to play a role in order for the April- June 2020 plan to be implemented?

3. REVAMP: Depending on the instructional model for September (for example: all on line; hybrid on line and face to face; 100% return to school)

  • Are there goals from the IEP under the review section that have been met?
  • Are there goals that have not been met and progress since the point schools closed has been lost?
  • Are there “new” goals/ areas of need that you have seen given the opportunity for you from March – June, 2020 to see how your child learns and/or responds to online instruction?
  • Are there “special considerations” for your child such as graduation in June 2020 or June 2021or transition into the school age program from early intervention that would be important to discuss NOW.

All these points are important, and you should feel confident and empowered to bring them to the “table” for review and discussion by your child’s IEP team.

Want to learn more? Join us for a free Facebook event with Kim on Wednesday August 12th at 12:30 pm. to learn more about what districts should be doing and how you can effectively and successfully partner with school teams for the 2020-1 school year so that your child gets what they need to move forward on their EDUCATIONAL ROAD MAP!

About the author: Kimberly A. Caputo, is an Attorney with McAndrews, Mehalick, Connolly, Hulse and Ryan. She has been practicing in the area of special education since 1999 where she has been responsible for handling all aspects of administrative due process involving students with disabilities under IDEA and Section 504. Having spent over 25 years in the School District of Philadelphia as both a special education attorney and special education administrator, Kim has a unique perspective on all facets of the educational process having handled hundreds of matters involving identification, early intervention transition programming, related services, discipline, placement (private tuition and residential), and transition services.  She has developed and provided extensive training opportunities on IDEA and Section 504 issues and developments in the law to audiences ranging from educators, administrators to students, parents and attorneys.

She is on the advisory board of the Urban Special Education Leaders of Tomorrow program at Drexel University and she is a frequent guest lecturer at local colleges, universities, parent groups and organizations.

To contact her: kcaputo@mcandrewslaw.com