Now that students are back in the classroom, all services, including those for special education students, are also resuming. Or so they should be.
As we receive requests for services, we see many stories of special education students whose needs must still be met, and lost services because of the pandemic must be compensated. As you may be aware, the lack of services and virtual education hobbled their progress. Students were unable to adequately receive the services or evaluations established in their individualized educational plans, due to the pandemic. The pandemic created a novel scenario in many regards. Unfortunately, it also caused numerous breach issues that were detrimental to our clientele.
Such is the case of a student, who we shall call Norman to protect his identity, who never received adequate services for his autism condition. In the middle of the pandemic, he was transferred from his school, an event unknown even to his mom until she learned of it through a friend. The new school failed to provide his therapies. Amid her despair, she came to Puerto Rico Legal Services for help. After reviewing her dozens of documents, we concluded that the placement was not only inadequate, but a story of noncompliance with evaluations and procedures and lack of services were affecting Norman’s progress. After a tortuous process, we were finally able to reach an agreement with the Education Department to have our proposal for purchase of services accepted. Norman was placed in a new school where services are being provided and progress is expected. His mom was truly grateful not only because of what was obtained for Norman, but because in the process she was empowered to continue to fight for his rights.
This story, again, is just an example of the many stories going on regarding students with special needs.
As we continue to defend the rights of Special Education students in the courts and other forums, we are thankful to you for helping us develop the Special Student Defense Fund as a step to help many other students. Crucial yet costly evaluations by experts are what ensure that children have access to the professional, skilled care they need and the provision of necessary services.
Thanks again for helping us continue our task.