Parents calling on Governor Kemp to resume in-person classes for kids with special needs

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Georgia public school districts that are planning to start the upcoming 2020-2021 school year with virtual only offerings are leaving kids with Individualized Education Programs (IEP) behind by denying eligible students a free appropriate public education or FAPE. More options and alternatives need to be made available for parents and their kids with disabilities. 

It doesn't make sense why day cares can stay open, but special education classes and services can't resume with appropriate safety measures. Many months of doing Zooms and virtual therapy does not really work for many children with IEPs. Not all children are alike and some kids need more than other kids do. Even under the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the state has an obligation to provide services outlined in each students individualized education plan.

Many essential supports for children with significant disabilities cannot be provided virtually. These include: feeding, personal care, behavior support, supervision for elopement, hand over hand prompting. These services are required by IEPs (legal documents) but are not being provided. Districts need out of the box thinking during these “unprecedented times." By nature the needs of our students are very specialized so the one size fits all virtual solution is not appropriate.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) considers the school system the “service provider” for school aged children with disabilities to ensure they can stay at home with their families in home and community based settings. Taking away this support makes them at risk for institutionalization as overwhelmed families lack the resources to obtain this care privately.

On behalf of children and young adults between the ages of 3 and 22, enrolled in the public school system and eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, parents are asking Governor Kemp to consider opening special needs programs by signing a new executive order that will allow necessary in-person special education instruction during the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.