The Los Angeles Unified School District failed to provide adequate educational services to students with disabilities during the COVID-19 campus shutdown, and will take steps to ensure affected students receive compensatory services, the U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday.
The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights announced an agreement with the LAUSD that will require the district to develop plans for assessing the services that were lost by students with disabilities during the pandemic and implement plans to ensure they are provided.
“Today’s resolution will ensure that the more than 66,000 Los Angeles Unified students with disabilities will receive the equal access to education to which federal civil rights law entitles them, including compensatory education for any services the district did not provide during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful for the district’s commitment now to meet the needs of its students with disabilities.”
Federal officials said that when LAUSD schools were forced into remote learning by COVID, the district limited services provided to students with disabilities, failed to track services that were provided and notified staff that the district was not responsible for providing “compensatory education” to students with disabilities who suffered learning loss during the pandemic because the campus closures were not ordered by the district.
According to DOE, the district will resolve the issues by “creating and implementing a comprehensive plan to address the compensatory education needs of students with disabilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
LAUSD issued a statement highlighting its “ongoing commitment to identify and extensively address student learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The district has two processes for addressing student learning loss which are done through compensatory education and recoupment services,” according to the district. “The agreement with OCR solely focuses on the district’s process for addressing student learning loss through compensatory education services. Critical components of the agreement include accelerated districtwide staff training and parent/guardian and stakeholder outreach to make sure parents/guardians in particular are well informed about Los Angeles Unified’s ongoing plans.
“Los Angeles Unified remains dedicated to helping all students, including students with disabilities, recover from the pandemic and achieve their educational goals.”