Tips for Families Using Special Education Services During Distance Learning

By FACT Oregon

Students, families and teachers are embarking on a new type of educational journey in the 2020-21 school year. With so many uncertainties, now’s a good time to review what we know for students receiving special education services. Students with disabilities who are eligible for special education services are protected by a federal law called IDEA. 

What is IDEA?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal education law that provides support and services to students with disabilities. Within IDEA are six important principles. These guide how services are provided to students with disabilities: 

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) Services are provided at no cost to families and must be designed so the student can make progress in the general education curriculum. 

Evaluations In order for a child to access IDEA, they must be found eligible as a “student with a disability,” and there must be an educational impact.  

Individualized Education Program (IEP) It’s the legal document that describes how the student will receive FAPE. (Note the word individualized.) This is important because each family situation is different, which means learning support for comprehensive distance learning will need to be individualized. 

Least restrictive environment Students must have meaningful access to their same-age peers without disabilities. If your child’s placement was in the general education classroom, your home is considered LRE during Comprehensive Distance Learning.

Parent and student participation in the decision making Parents/students are recognized as valuable team members and must be afforded the opportunity to provide, and have considered, their meaningful input.

Procedural safeguards The rights and protections for children with disabilities and their parents so that they can effectively participate in the special education process.

Tips for Families Using Special Education Services During Distance Learning

1. Share your family’s vision for your child. You are their No. 1 fan! 

2. Create or update your child’s One-Page Profile, keeping the current instructional model in mind (comprehensive distance learning, hybrid or limited in-person). 

3. Prepare your parent input. Include the support your family needs during comprehensive distance learning.

4. Be flexible. Everyone is new to this; some adjustments may be needed along the way.

5. Capture, log or journal learning at home. 

6. Remember: Special education services will look different this year.

7. Connect with your district. Many are hosting parent training sessions.

8. Collaboration and communication between parents and school teams will be critical during the 2020-21 school year.

9. Check out FACT Oregon’s Comprehensive Distance Learning page for resources during the 2020-2021 school year.

10. You are not alone. Visit or call 503-786-6082 for resources, training and peer-to-peer support!

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