School District of Philadelphia Ordered to Award Compensatory Education Services to Tens of Thousands of Students with Disabilities to Address COVID-Related Deprivations of FAPE

As a result of a complaint filed by ELC on behalf of all children with disabilities in the School District of Philadelphia (District), PDE’s Bureau of Special Education has ordered the District to review and assess data for all students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Section 504 accommodations plans to determine necessary make-up services, or compensatory education, owed for deprivations of a free, appropriate public education stemming from COVID school closures. Both PDE and the U.S. Department of Education have made clear that when schools closed, school districts were required to provide compensatory education for denials of the educational rights of students with disabilities.  Following an investigation that spanned multiple months, PDE issued two Complaint Investigation Reports (IEP and 504) finding that the District did not provide these necessary make-up services or make required determinations for all students with disabilities. In the coming months, the District must convene IEP and Section 504 teams for more than 20,000 students with disabilities to determine the make-up services necessary to address educational deprivations stemming from the COVID closures. By September 29, the District must provide a summary of the IEP and 504 meetings and the determinations made to remedy FAPE during the pandemic. If you believe that your child is eligible for these make-up services, contact your child’s school or ELC’s Helpline for more information.

Notably, Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) is currently implementing “COVID Compensatory Services 2.0” to ensure that their students receive the make-up services to which they are legally entitled.  You can learn more this ongoing effort at including a helpful Parent Pre-Meeting Planning Checklist.