BALTIMORE — As we get closer and closer to the start of school, there are still a lot of questions about how virtual learning will work, especially for students with special needs.
For special education law attorney Wayne Steedman and his clients, it’s a pretty dire situation.
Wayne steedman, attorney special education law- "We already know children with disabilities are already behind their non-disabled peers. And the gap is just going to get wider and wider and wider," said Steedman. "Several kids I represent have ended up psychiatrically hospitalized during this time because they don’t have any of the services they were getting before. They don’t have the structure of the school, school does provide a lot of structure, so their behaviors deteriorate. They start becoming self destructive or maybe aggressive towards others."
As schools get ready to start the fall virtually, his families are worried. They’ve seen their children regress with less support and structure and they don't know if their childs' IEP, individualized education program, will be followed, if at all.
"If those IEPs can’t be implemented, which for the most part they can’t, can’t be done virtually, then they aren’t receiving an appropriate education. So some kids are getting nothing. Some of the kids I’m representing are getting nothing and I won’t say it’s because the school aren’t trying. I think the schools have tried but they are limited in what they can do," said Steedman.
Moving into the fall, he’ll work with the schools collaboratively to hold them accountable.
"If there’s a problem, we are going to, instead of filing a lawsuit, we’re gonna say lets meet. We will have a meeting to discuss the childs' IEP and what's being done and what isn’t being done and what we can do to fix that," said Steedman.
Those meetings will be held virtually, one good thing that came out of the pandemic he said. He hopes virtual IEP meetings continue to be an option because it’s more convenient for his families.
"These IEP meetings are always held in the middle of the day and people have to take off work. And if they can maybe take an hour from their lunch break or some other kind of break, they don’t have to miss work. They don’t have to take half a day off or a whole day off," said Steedman.