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Advisory 2020-2 on Timelines, Evaluations and Team Meetings during COVID Closure

Date: 
05/21/2020
Author: 
MA DESE

From the advisory: Key considerations for annual review Team meetings, initial evaluations, reevaluations and transition to early childhood special education; these considerations are focused on the individual needs of the student and require clear communication with the parent.

  • Schools and districts must not communicate or implement any blanket policies that preclude Team meetings or evaluations from occurring or altering the Team process described in federal and state statutes and regulations, e.g. the district cannot have a policy or practice that suspends all annual review Team meetings or evaluations until students return to school.
  • Schools and districts cannot require a parent to waive procedural rights when agreeing to an extension of timelines or in order to have a virtual meeting. 
  • If the school or district is seeking an extension of evaluation or Team meeting timelines, the district should communicate the reasons for proposing an extension and engage in collaborative decision-making with the parent about how to proceed, prior to sending documentation.  
  • In documenting parental agreement to an extension, a Notice of Proposed School District Action (N1) or other form of written confirmation of agreement, such as an email, are allowable forms of documentation. The school or district should record discussions with the parent, outlining reason(s) for the extension with the anticipated date on which the meeting or evaluation may occur.[1] 
  • For parents who do not speak English, schools and districts must communicate in the parent’s native language, providing interpreters and translating documents where required.
  • In communications with the parent, schools and districts must use language that is understandable to the general public.
  • Schools and districts should use multiple modes of communication, such as written notice, email and telephone calls.
  • Schools and districts should assist parents in resolving technology-related barriers.
  • Wherever possible, districts are encouraged to hold Team meetings and conduct evaluations during the summer to mitigate the backlog when schools resume in-person operations.
 

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