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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 21, 2020 09:49 AM
From: Representative Jason Ortitay
To: All House members
Subject: In Person Special Education Waiver
I plan to introduce legislation that would require the Secretary of Education to immediately issue a waiver to any order by the Governor closing any public or nonpublic schools based on the proclamation of disaster emergency issued by the Governor on March 6, 2020 or any extension of that order to all public schools and nonpublic school to permit them to provide in-person special education services that comply with the individualized education program under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
A public or nonpublic school shall adhere to social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect from and to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus and any recommendations of the Secretary of Health directing public health safety measures to maintain in-person special education services.
Even though Pennsylvania’s school entities are closed, students are still entitled under federal law to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Many public schools are struggling with how to comply with these federal requirements in light of school closures.  While many schools are attempting to provide special education services through alternative means, it is simply not enough to replace the in-person services that these children need. 
According to Governor Wolf’s three-phase plan, when a region eventually moves into the less restrictive yellow phase, secondary schools would remain closed for in-person instruction. Our constituents have brought to our attention this decision could have a devastating impact on our students receiving special education services and their families because the virtual learning set-up does not work for them. They are concerned a continued prohibition of in-person access to education for many special needs children across the Commonwealth could result in our most vulnerable students being left behind.
Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation to issue a waiver to public schools and non-public schools to provide in-person special education services.

Introduced as HB2560