Coronavirus - Education - Timelines

How Disability Rights California Can Help You

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Special Education Timelines: Do they still apply during this outbreak?

*This page will be updated as more information is made available

Schools are still required to comply with the timelines in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The U.S. Department of Education and California Department of Education though have provided guidance that gives schools some flexibility with the timelines. Further, on March 17, 2020, the California Legislature passed SB 117, a law that waives several state special education timelines (a full overview of SB 117 is below).

U.S. Department of Education Guidance on Timelines:

  • Schools must still convene IEP meetings within 30 days of a parent’s request and review IEPs at least annually. However, parents and an IEP Team may agree to conduct IEP meetings through alternate means, including videoconferencing or conference telephone calls.
  • The parent of a child with a disability and the public agency may agree to not convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making changes to the IEP, and instead develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP.
  • An initial evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of receiving parental consent under IDEA.
  • A reevaluation of each child with a disability must still be conducted at least every three years.

California Department of Education Guidance on Timelines:

  • The California Department of Education is continuing to accept IDEA compliance complaints, but is extending the 60-day investigation period by the length of any school site closure during the stated emergency.
  • California’s system for due process hearings and mediation through the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) remains operational. Updated information on the impact of COVID-19 on special education due process hearings can be accessed on the OAH’s website.
 

New Law (SB 117) - Impacting the Rights of Students with Disabilities

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed SB 117, an education finance bill that addresses school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The law took effect immediately.

SB 117 impacts California students with disabilities’ special education rights. It waives many special education timelines while public schools are closed due to COVID-19.

Special Education Timelines that SB 117 Waives:

  • The right to receive an assessment plan within fifteen (15) days after your child is referred for a special education assessment.
  • The right to receive copies of your child’s school records within five (5) business days after a request, before any IEP meeting, or before any due process hearing or resolution session.
  • When your child enrolls in a new school district, the right to have your former school district send your child’s records to the new one within five (5) business days.
  • SB 117 also extends timelines under the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) by the length of time a school is closed due to COVID-19.

These timelines will start again once schools reopen and the regular school session starts again. SB 117 considers your school “closed” even if it offers independent study, distance learning, or both.

The special education timelines that SB 117 waives are state law requirements. SB 117 does not waive any federal requirements imposed under the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Information on the impact of COVID-19 on the federal timelines is discussed above.