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Contingency Learning Plans for the 2021-22 School Year
School officials should review each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and consider whether a Contingency Learning Plan (CLP) should be created or modified for this school year.
In general, a CLP is a written plan that addresses when a student may need to receive special education and related services virtually or in an alternate format due to COVID-19. A CLP should describe the circumstances that would trigger its use. It should also describe the special education and supplemental aids and services to be provided during its implementation. CLPs are optional, not legally required. But, in the absence of a CLP, it may be necessary to amend a student’s IEP if circumstances change and the IEP is written in a manner that is not location-neutral as to the delivery of special education and related services (i.e., it cannot be implemented in the same or similar manner during in-person and remote instruction).
In response to COVID-19 school closures in 2020, the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education, highly recommended that schools develop CLPs outside of the IEP process (i.e., without parent/guardian input, an IEP Team meeting, an IEP amendment, or prior written notice). Thrun Law Firm repeatedly advised schools that CLPs must be completed through either the IEP or IEP amendment process.
If your school developed CLPs without convening an IEP Team meeting or completing a proper IEP amendment, we strongly recommend not doing so this year. The school should convene an IEP Team meeting or complete an IEP amendment with parent/guardian agreement before drafting or implementing a CLP. Relatedly, if a student’s previous CLP was not developed through the IEP or IEP amendment process, did not provide the student a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), or is expired, then a new CLP or an updated IEP may be necessary.
The supplemental aids and services section of the IEP should reference the CLP as follows:
The IEP Team determined that the Student requires a Contingency Learning Plan to address potential COVID-19 related interruptions to in-person instruction. The Contingency Learning Plan is attached to this IEP and may be amended by the District, in consultation with the Student’s parent/guardian, outside of the IEP process.
A copy of the CLP and any later modifications should be provided to the parent/guardian and should be accompanied with prior written notice.
A student’s IEP is the school’s offer of FAPE that drives special education programs and services. A CLP is typically not necessary if the IEP Team develops an IEP for the student that is location-neutral and reflects the programs and services to be provided to the student.
Ultimately, school officials must ensure that students with disabilities receive a FAPE, including the special education and related services identified in the IEP. Failure to do so may violate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Thrun Law Firm developed a template COVID-19 CLP with instructions for its use, which is available for purchase for $265. Please contact a Thrun special education attorney to purchase a copy.