Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released Providing Students with Disabilities Free Appropriate Public Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Addressing the Need for Compensatory Services Under Section 504, a fact sheet reminding schools of their obligations under Section 504 to ensure free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities during the pandemic, including schools’ responsibilities to provide compensatory services.
In the new fact sheet, OCR reminds schools that even with the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, students with disabilities retain their right to FAPE under Section 504. If a student with a disability did not receive appropriate evaluations or services, then schools must determine whether, and to what extent, compensatory services are required. The fact sheet includes factors to consider when determining the appropriate type and amount of compensatory services and makes clear that providing compensatory services to a student does not draw into question a school’s good faith efforts during these difficult circumstances. It is a remedy that recognizes the reality that students experience injury when they do not receive appropriate and timely initial evaluations, re-evaluations, or services, regardless of the reason.
Today’s resource builds on OCR’s efforts to protect students’ civil rights, and to assist schools in responding to COVID-19, consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers. We ask that you share the fact sheet with your networks.