Special Education and COVID19                                  RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES

Hawaii State Teachers Association Announces Legal Action

HIDOE - Reopening of Schools (SY '20-21)

Letters to DOE/BOE from Advocacy Groups and Community Organizations

The Hawai‘i State Legislature sent a letter to the Board of Education today stating that they are “extremely concerned” about distance learning and plans for reopening schools. The letter outlines low participation rates for distance learning, internet connectivity and device access inequities among students, and the lack of a concise plan for how they will spend the federal CARES Act funding they have received. The letter is signed by Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki, Senate Education Committee Chair Michelle Kidani and her House counterpart Representative Justin Woodson, and budget committee chairs Senator Donovan Dela Cruz and Representative Sylvia Luke. The legislators ask that the Board of Education’s Finance and Infrastructure Committee convene an emergency meeting on July 2nd to vet the Department’s plan for financial implications and resource requirements and provide a report to the Legislature, before they will consider allocating any additional funding.

State lawmakers are criticizing the Department of Education for its lack of preparation for its distance learning programs ― but the school’s superintendent is returning blame, accusing the legislature of not providing funding to put a plan together. “The legislature is extremely concerned about the situation at the Department of Education,” Senate and House members wrote in a joint letter to the Board of Education. “We implore the Board to ensure the department’s reopening plans include a clear, fiscal accounting of how state and federal funds will be used to ensure the health, well-being and education of our Keiki.” In the letter, lawmakers cited a teacher’s union survey showing that many students didn’t take part in online classes during the pandemic, even though the DOE has received millions in federal funding for distance learning. Legislators are also worried that the DOE is waiting until July 2 ― a month before school starts ― to tell schools how to reopen. State Superintendent Christina Kishimoto says the state’s lawmakers should share some of the responsibility. “A month before schools are set to reopen, Hawaii’s legislators have allocated zero dollars from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, from which we had sought $111 million,” she said.

To slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hawaii, Superintendent Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto announced that Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) schools will be closed until April 30, 2020, with no traditional in-person instructional activities until the reopening of school facilities. The purpose of this guidance document is to address modifications in the educational programming and services needed as a result of the necessary prolonged school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This document supersedes prior guidance on the same topic.

If the LEA is continuing to provide instruction to the general school population, IEP Teams must determine which services can be provided to appropriately meet individual students’ needs. IEP Teams may meet via teleconference to make individual determinations whether some or all of a student’s identified services can be provided through alternative or additional methods. Appropriate personnel must make similar considerations and take similar actions regarding students who have a 504 plan and students parentally placed in private schools who have service plans.

During the facilities' closure, the HIDOE schools will continue to provide learning opportunities through both online and paper packet enrichment activities to all students. To provide students, including students with disabilities, equal access to these enrichment activities, school should focus on what can be done to achieve appropriate and responable supports. Schools must, to the greatest extent possible provide teh special education and related services identified in the student's IEP and 504 Plan. This means focusing on what is appropriate and reasonable for all students. 

Schools must, to the greatest extent possible, provide the special education and related services identified in the students' IEP or Section 504 plan. This means focusing on what is appropriate and reasonable. The use of telepractice as a service delivery model for related services should be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

School shall conduct IEP meetings virtually using secured WebEx or conference calls. In the case where a parent/legal guradian or any other team member does not have online platform capabilities, they may call into the virtual meeting via telephone.