Back-to-School (sort of)


Back-To-School is looking a lot different this year, and while I know a lot of you are happy to see your children experiencing some sort of normality, questions and worry still linger for all of us.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you start this new and unusual year:

Selecting a Full-Time Remote Plan Should Not Hurt Your Reimbursement Case

We have received a lot of questions asking if opting for full-time remote learning could hurt a case for private school reimbursement. I think this decision is highly unlikely to have any negative impact. We are in the middle of a once in one hundred years crisis, and even public schools are allowing students to stay home full time. Everyone seems to recognize that health and safety come first. We will have to provide information about the private school's remote program, their attendance policies, and schedule, but thus far, we have won funding for every reimbursement case we took to hearing in the past six months, most of which had a remote learning component. Hearing officers seem to be impressed with the efforts of the private schools in this regard. While we can make no promises about the outcomes of cases, we currently see no reason to think that choosing remote learning will be problematic.

You Can Get Reimbursement for Private Transportation Costs

The DOE does not plan to provide busing to any students prior to its in-person start date of September 21st. After that, it is anyone's guess as to when busing will begin and how smoothly the process will go. NYS Ed has made clear, in a memo released just today, that school districts cannot use COVID as an excuse to shirk their responsibility to provide busing; however, parents who are veterans of this process will know that the first few weeks of busing can be chaotic, even in a good year. The DOE is pledging to reimburse parents for private transportation costs incurred prior to the 21st - we will see how this plays out and keep you updated. In the meantime, it is best to have a Plan B in place for getting your child to and from school. In most cases, we should be able to get you reimbursed for transportation expenses. Contact our paralegal, Chloe Rodriguez (chloe@ratclifflaw.org), for more detailed information. The paperwork involved is significant, so the sooner you develop a plan and let us know what it is, the better.

If Your Child is in Public School, Keep Track of Any Missed Services and Instruction

You can seek funding for make-up services (through compensatory education) for any skipped services or instruction time, but the more detail you can provide, the better. If missed services are likely to become an issue, I would suggest using a calendar (electronic or paper) to note the amount and type of service your child failed to receive each day. Also, be sure to keep copies and records of all your communications with the district/school about this issue. Finally, make sure to contact our office for help in rectifying the problem and/or filing a case for compensatory education.

We Are Here To Help You

It goes without saying that this has been a tough year for everyone; particularly, for special needs students and their parents. The uncertainty that still remains is making back-to-school even more stressful than usual. Though this is uncharted territory for all of us, at Ratcliff Law, we are here to help and support you. Be sure to reach out to us about these, and any other issues you are facing.

Contact us at jennifer@ratclifflaw.org or 646-741-3030.

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