Leslie Seid Margolis, J.D., Managing Attorney of DRM’s Education Team, was recently interviewed in an NPR feature titled “After Months Of Special Education Turmoil, Families Say Schools Owe Them.” The article highlights the challenges facing students and families whose access to special education services was delayed or denied as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As distance learning became the norm, many school districts did not offer critical services, guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act.
As a result not only were children with disabilities deprived of educational services for up to a year or more, but the lives of the students and families who utilize these services were significantly disrupted. For many families, the article asserted “…this disruption wasn’t just difficult. It was devastating.”
The NPR feature profiled several parents and students who have been affected, including two DRM clients, and referenced the complaint DRM recently filed with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). DRM filed the complaint on behalf of 31 students in school districts throughout Maryland who were unable to access or participate effectively in their special education services when those services were provided remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. DRM filed the complaint in response to MSDE’s indication that it would limit the remedy period for denials of compensatory services to one year instead of ordering relief for the actual time period services were denied, beginning in March 2020 when school buildings closed.
Leslie and her team addressed the struggles families were facing as schools shifted to distance learning by taking additional individual cases and by quickly developing new ways to provide support and written resources directly to parents in the form of brief parent guides. These materials are provided in both English and Spanish whenever possible and include the Education Team’s Facebook Live Q&As. The guides are published on our website and cover a variety of topics ranging from pandemic-related issues to extended school year and what parents can do if they believe their child is not making progress.