(The Center Square) – Fairfax County Public schools failed to provide appropriate education for students with disabilities during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education.
An investigation from the department’s Office for Civil Rights found thousands of students with disabilities did not receive services required in their Individualized Education Programs and 504 plans during remote learning. The office also found the school system failed to provide proper compensatory services for many disabled students when they returned to the classroom.
The office found the school system’s inadequacies were a violation of federal civil rights law. The office also entered into a resolution agreement to ensure students with disabilities receive proper education going forward and the school system addresses the needs of students who did not receive appropriate education.
“I am relieved that the more than 25,000 students with disabilities in Fairfax County will now receive services federal law promises to them, even during a pandemic, to ensure their equal access to education,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a statement.
According to the report, Fairfax County Public Schools limited services and special education instruction for students with disabilities, falsely informed staff that compensatory education was not required by law and did not develop a plan to reduce the number of instances in which students with disabilities were denied certain services when the schools were shut down for in person instruction.
The resolution agreement requires the school system develop a plan to provide disabled students with compensatory education if they did not receive services aligned with their Individualized Education Programs during the pandemic. It requires the system to designate a plan administrator and convene teams to properly execute the plan and to provide outreach to parents and students to publicize the plan.
Per the agreement, Fairfax County Public Schools will also need to track the plan and provide reports to the Office of Civil Rights.