• Molly Watson

Will compensatory Education be Provided to Special Needs Children due to COVID-19 School Closures?

What is compensatory education?


Compensatory education is a form of relief that may be granted to a student for the denial of appropriate special education services to help the student overcome lost educational opportunity. School districts and courts generally regard compensatory education as a remedy for a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), either in the design of the educational program or in its implementation. Compensatory education ensures that the student is provided with an appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA.)


When is a student granted compensatory education?


School districts often agree to provide a student compensatory education in settlement of an administrative law case or settlement of a case in state or federal court. At the conclusion of a court case, a court may order a school district to provide a student compensatory education.


What types of compensatory education are available?


Compensatory education is provided in various forms, depending the nature of the lost special education services and the needs of the child. For instance, if a school district failed to provide a student with the occupational therapy included in the child's IEP, the child may be entitled to occupational therapy to make up for this loss in order to meet their unique needs.


Compensatory education may be provided to meet a child's academic, social/emotional or behavioral needs. Courts sometimes grant as compensatory education the ongoing placement in a nonpublic school. A court in California even granted as compensatory education a student's ongoing placement in a school that was not certified with the state of California.


How much compensatory education is a child entitled to?


The award of compensatory education must be reasonably calculated to provide the educational benefits that likely would have accrued from special education services the school district should have supplied in the first place.


However, courts have found that an award of compensatory education need not provide a “day-for-day compensation. This means that a court may choose to grant a child an amount of compensatory education that differs from the amount of time of lost services.


Are children who have been denied a FAPE during the COVID-19 health emergency entitled to compensatory education?






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