Fairfax County Public Schools Releases Plan to Provide Compensatory Education to Remedy FAPE Violations from COVID-19 Remote Learning

Dec 24, 2022 | Compensatory Education, Covid-19, FAPE, Federal Standards, Virtual Instruction

Fairfax County Public Schools has acknowledged that it did not meet its legal obligations to students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has released a plan to fix it.

Late last month, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a resolution agreement with Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school division in Virginia, relating to special education services that FCPS did not deliver to students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After an investigation, OCR found that FCPS failed to provide disabled students with services identified in students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans during the period that FCPS was in remote learning:

  • FCPS impermissibly reduced and placed limits on services and instruction provided to students with disabilities based on factors other than the students’ individualized educational needs.
  • FCPS inaccurately informed its staff that FCPS was not required to provide compensatory education to students with disabilities who did not receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic because the school division was not at fault. 
  • FCPS failed to develop and implement an adequate plan to remedy the instances in which students with disabilities were not provided a FAPE during remote learning.  
  • FCPS did not accurately track services provided to students with disabilities.

FCPS agreed to resolve the legal violations by:

  • Developing and implementing a plan to determine and provide compensatory education to students with disabilities who did not receive a FAPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Designating a plan administrator who will oversee the creation and implementation of the plan. 
  • Convening IEP and Section 504 team meetings to determine whether students with disabilities were not provided the regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet their individual needs during remote learning and determine compensatory education. 
  • Tracking and reporting to OCR the implementation of the plan for compensatory education. 
  • Providing written guidance and/or training about the plan to school division staff with responsibilities under Section 504 and Title II, and
  • Conducting outreach to parents, guardians, students, and other stakeholders to publicize the plan.  

Accordingly, on December 22, 2022, FCPS released the Fairfax County Public Schools’ COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan. The Plan describes the criteria for determining compensatory education, as well as the school division’s plans to develop a system to track compensatory service hours and provide staff training, guidance and stakeholder outreach, including designated points of contact.