We understand this is a very challenging time. We will do everything possible to alleviate the additional stress that you may be having regarding your child’s case. Please be safe! Below you will find answers to many of the questions you may have.
IS THE OFFICE STILL OPEN?
Yes, our office is working remotely. Thanks to video-conferencing, shared programs/files, a paperless-office, and teamwork, Ratcliff Law is running seamlessly. You would likely not even know we are working remotely. Our office line (646-741-3030) is hooked up to our home offices, so you can still reach us at that number during business hours.
CAN I MAIL DOCUMENTS TO YOUR OFFICE?
Before mailing us anything, especially a check or original documents, reach out to Fanny directly by calling the office or emailing her at Fanny@ratclifflaw.org. We have forwarded our mail, but we have learned from USPS that there is currently a time-lag with mail forwarding due to high demand. We don’t want anything to get lost – Fanny can point you in the right direction.
WILL MY SETTLEMENT / PENDENCY ORDER CONTINUE TO BE PAID IF MY CHILD’S SERVICES ARE PROVIDED REMOTELY?
Yes. The Department of Education has advised that, if a district provides educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities including the provision of free appropriate public education. Additionally, prior guidance issued during the H1N1 outbreak determined that a child's needs could be met through homebound instruction if there were health and safety concerns. The DOE must ensure that students with disabilities have the necessary accommodations and modifications to access their education during this time.
MY CHILD’S CASE HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR A HEARING. DO I HAVE TO ATTEND IT IN PERSON?
We are happy to report that while the Impartial Hearing Office has closed, hearing officers are still holding pre-hearing conferences and hearings telephonically. Unless we let you know otherwise, your scheduled hearing will be proceeding via phone. We will let you know if there are any changes.
WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH MY CASE THAT HASN’T SETTLED YET?
DOE attorneys are continuing to work from home. We remain in touch with DOE counsel regarding the negotiation and settlement or your case.
WILL I RECEIVE TUITION REIMBURSEMENT IF MY CHILD DOES REMOTE LEARNING?
It is our belief that, if the private placement implements a remote learning program, and/or provides at home assignments, you will receive tuition reimbursement. To ensure this, we strongly recommend that you maintain thorough records of your student’s learning. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! This includes keeping records of schedules, notes, assignments, lessons, homework, and any electronic communications with the school and providers, regarding your child’s education and related services during this period. It will be best to create a filing system for documents and an electronic filing system for all email communications with the school regarding your child’s educational program during this time. Here is an article on organizing your child’s documents which you may find helpful: https://www.fetaweb.com/03/paperchase.crabtree.htm.
WILL CSE MEETINGS BE HELD?
Your child’s IEP meetings will still take place. All IEP meetings will be conducted by phone.
MY CHILD REQUIRES 1:1 SERVICES. HOW WILL HIS/HER SERVICES BE IMPLEMENTED?
We, along with other special education law firms, have been working to find the answer to this difficult question. Providers are not permitted in homes but may continue instruction through remote learning. Many speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, ABA, and SEIT providers are delivering services remotely. Providers are training parents via video and assisting parents in the facilitation of 1:1 sessions using video conference. We also understand that some providers are giving parents daily lessons and curriculum to follow.
HOW WILL I SIGN THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT OR GET DOCUMENTS NOTARIZED?
We are currently waiting for the DOE’s decision regarding electronic notarization, and electronic signatures. We will provide you with guidance when a decision is made.
WHAT IF I DO NOT HAVE THE PROPER TECHNOLOGY?
We are aware that many of our clients may not have access to technology such as video-conferencing or electronic signature programs. Please let us know if this an issue for you and inform your child’s school and providers. We will help you find a solution. In the meantime, continue to document everything you are doing, even if you write notes out longhand in a journal.
We are closely monitoring changes and updates and will keep you posted. We look forward to continuing to work with you during this difficult time to resolve your case. Again, we hope that you and your family are safe.
For additional questions about the impact of the Coronavirus on your specific case, or other inquiries, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-741-3030.