COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Anxious parents are asking for answers as their schools go back to remote learning and their children are with special needs. This comes after some superintendents call certain interventions impossible in a remote setting.
"He gave up a lot," said mom Christy Kuder whose son attends Hayes Intermediate within South-Western City Schools. "He stressed. At times, he even came to tears."
Alek Kuder, 11, is given a reading specialist, writing specialist, and occupational therapist as part of his individual education plan. When instruction transitioned online last spring due to the pandemic, face-to-face supports turned into individual sessions on zoom. The boy's mother said it was not enough.
This week, SWCSD announced it would start the 2020-2021 school year with online-only learning, again.
"I want to destroy the computers, all of them, every single one of them," said Alek. "Then, we would have to go back to school."
When Scoring Our Schools asked Disability Rights Ohio if school districts were legally required to supply special education services and supports during a pandemic, attorney Kristen Hildebrant responded with the "simple answer."
"Yes," she said.
However, Hildebrant said this is the time when parents need to be aggressive and meet with their child's IEP or 504 Plan teams individually before school begins.
"I’m concerned the parents are skipping that step because they’re not aware they have the right to talk to their specific school district," she said. "If a school district says, 'We don’t have the time to meet with you,' or, 'We’re not going to talk about individual services for your child because this is what we’re offering and you take it or leave it,' that’s not acceptable."
If a district cannot provide support, it may be required to pay a third party to assist that child. Hildebrant also says any missed interventions are required to be made up.
Christy Kuder plans to schedule a meeting with Alek's IEP team, right away to ask what will be her son's instruction and how will it take place virtually so he doesn't fall any more behind.
"I don’t really know his rights," Kuder said. "I do have to speak up for him and make sure that he’s getting what he needs."