Callahan: COVID-19 Crisis Is an Opportunity to Flip the Script on Special Education

This article originally appeared in The 74 on April 10, 2020. This is an opinion piece by Kathleen Callahan.


s a former teacher and coach of children with special needs, as a sister to someone with Down syndrome, and as an education policy wonk, I am bewildered by our government’s inadequate response to accommodating students with disabilities during COVID-19.


Betsy DeVos released last month a Q&A document and a supplemental fact sheet that make it clear that districts will not be held accountable for their inability to serve special education students during extended school closures due to COVID-19.


These documents merely state districts’ obligations to special education students from a legal standpoint: “To the greatest extent possible,” the guidance says, the school must provide students with disabilities the services identified in their Individualized Education Plans.