The school closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have adversely affected the educational progress of many IDEA and Section 504-eligible students. Early on, the US Department of Education (DOE) issued guidance encouraging school districts to evaluate the progress of IDEA-eligible students, determine whether they progressed at expected rates, and, if not, provide compensatory services. DOE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued similar guidance for 504-eligible students.
OCR’s guidance, entitled Fact Sheet: Providing Students with Disabilities Free Appropriate Public Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Addressing the Need for Compensatory Services Under Section 504, suggests that school districts consider the following factors to determine whether 504-eligible students qualify for compensatory services and, if so, how much:
· the frequency and duration of missed instruction and related services;
· whether special education or related services that were provided during the pandemic were appropriate based on the student’s individual need;
· the student’s present level of performance;
· the student’s previous rates of progress;
· the results of updated evaluations;
· whether evaluations were delayed; and,
· any other relevant information.
If, after considering these factors, the 504 team determines compensatory services are warranted, they should be documented and implemented.