On April 20, 2020, the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) issued updated FAQ guidance on special education issues impacting school districts and students during remote learning due to COVD-19 shortly after Governor Pritzker’s April 17, 2020, announcement that all Illinois schools will remain closed through the 2019-2020 school year. Furthermore, earlier today, on April 24, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-31, suspending certain requirements for student graduation, including graduation requirements for twelfth grade students, foreign language proficiency examination, and U.S. history prerequisite for eighth grade graduation. ISBE is in the process of finalizing emergency rules with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (“JCAR”) and the Illinois Secretary of State (“SOS”) to address these issues; we will provide additional updates once ISBE issues its emergency rules.

In general, ISBE’s FAQ guidance reiterated that there are no current waivers or flexibility to federal and state requirements regarding the provision of special education and related services to students, and school districts must continue to provide services to eligible students and meet all relevant deadlines during remote learning.

Notably, ISBE clarifies school districts must continue to obtain informed, written consent from parents during remote learning when required, e.g., initial evaluations, reevaluations, initial provision of special education services. If school districts are unable to obtain written consent and signatures from parents, school teams should use alternate methods, such as providing copies of consent forms to parents and allowing them to return the signed form electronically or via first class mail, accepting electronic signatures, or allowing parents to provide an email confirming consent.

We updated our FAQ guidance on special education and student matters during school closure to incorporate ISBE’s April 20, 2020, FAQ guidance.

Please contact any attorney in our Students/Special Education practice group with questions on the provision of special education and related services during remote learning.