Many people are being pressured by school districts to decide, sometimes for the entire future school year, whether they want their children at school full time, or at home with remote instruction full time, or any variety of middle compromises during our time of horrifying pandemic.That puts a immense pressure on families to assume a lot of risk of unknown outcomes, and particularly, huge risk of educational and health loss on children, themselves.If children are our most precious, then let’s think long and hard.If you discover you made the wrong decision, there may be ways to back it out, but that, too, costs time.It may require professional assistance, as well, lest the problem only compound.

When faced with such “either-or” choices, many people will do the instinctive, run-away response.So we see people diving into home school, assured by well-meaning others that, “Yes, you can!”Be careful.If you’ve looked at some of the curriculum suggestions for newbie homeschoolers, you might correctly guess that they will not take your child, especially a special needs child, from the current level to any next level, whatsoever.Homeschool curriculum has no measurable requirements in many states, and people with little more than a grade school education, a phone camera, and maybe a photocopier seem to have slapped a lot of it together.I’ve found it curious to note that many gung-ho homeschool groups (they’re everywhere on social media) also sponsor stress-busting conferences for the moms trying to do it all.Relaxation and recreation conferences for homeschooling dads evade my discovery.So, if that tells us anything . . .I guess they just take off and go fishing?

Measurable goals and objectives, and measured progress, are critical components of every IEP.They are critical for ALL school curriculum, too.Every state has standards, and it’s the IEP that translates those measurable standards into educational access for every special needs child.

In the present dilemma, I highly recommend reading the latest Special Ed Advocate newsletter from Wrightslaw.com, “Is It Time to Consider a Different Plan for Your Child’s Education?”(It’s listed in our “RESOURCES” tab on this website.)If your child is already identified as eligible for either IDEA or Sec. 504 services, you might stand a good chance of negotiating curriculum suggestions (found in the newsletter) as accommodations for your child while the pandemic rages.Even if you don’t have an eligible child, there may be ways to help the school district educate your child in ways suggested.The article also gives as much practical advice on child care as I’ve seen anywhere, but we all know it’s something you’ve got to navigate on a case-by-case basis.Regardless, it’s good to know you’re not alone and that you can bring requests to your school administration and school board, if necessary.

By all means, pay close attention to how you handle special needs services and eligibility with your district.Be careful not to decline anything in the SPED and Sec. 504 area without having a reasonable and educationally justifiable alternative, which you can show in writing.Wrightslaw.com also has terrific material on “compensatory services”, so you can go in with your eyes open.If you don’t belong to COPAA, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, NOW would be the best time of your life to join, if you possibly can.https://www.copaa.org/default.aspx

The important thing here is, whatever you decide to do, you want to handle the educational relationship with your school district very carefully.IDEA and Sec. 504 give you and your child powerful rights, but there are ways to cut yourself off from them, without even realizing it.When the pandemic is over, and I pray that you and all your children come out the other side ready to work and play like old times, you want to be able to go forward without going back over ground already covered for years in the past.Special education eligibility is hard to get correctly identified, so if you have it, protect it.If you need to get it started or you need a more accurate eligibility determination, enlist an advocate right away.

Time is short on these big, big decisions.If you want to take a short cut and get professional advocacy assistance, please call here, (870) 918-3431 or e-mail robin@kuykendalladvocates.com .First 30 minutes is free.Get your child’s file ready before your call, so we can help you right away.