Bill passed to help special education students recover academically from pandemic

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A student works on a math book in a school classroom (Nexstar, file)

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Legislation was passed that ensures students with disabilities “aging-out” of public education can return to school to get the educational services they were unable to receive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will allow special education students to return to school until completing their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or turning 23 years old – whichever is sooner.

In New York State, students are entitled to attend public school until the end of the school year in which they turn 21. Although most students graduate within four years, often students with disabilities need this additional time to acquire the skills they need to be successful.

Although most schools were able to adapt to online education during the pandemic, many special education students were unable to engage in remote learning or to adapt to online lessons, essentially losing education. This includes students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students who have visual impairments, students who have multiple disabilities and some that cannot use computers independently.

Consequently, these students were unable to receive many of the important services defined in their IEPs. This bill ensures school districts can continue providing educational services to students who did not receive services included in their IEP during the pandemic.

“Every student deserves access to a quality education that helps them thrive and for many special education students, that means having supportive school districts that meet the specific needs of their intellectual or developmental disabilities,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who co-sponsored the bill. “As the father of a child with autism, I know the challenges that the pandemic has posed for individuals with disabilities. Many essential programs and services were halted and many students with disabilities faced difficulties adapting to online learning. This legislation will ensure these students can academically recover and can complete their individualized education plan without penalty.”

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