By Christopher B. Dolan and Aimee Kirby
This week’s question comes from Sunny.
Dear Mr. Dolan: I am a mother living in San Francisco and I have two children. My son is in seventh grade and my daughter is in high school. Both my husband and I work full time and my husband has to go to his office. My employer has allowed employees to work remotely since the pandemic began. While I appreciate the hard work teachers put into their classes during this pandemic, my two children fall behind and have emotional issues when confined to tiny homes. My son had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) early on, which then became a 504. (A 504 plan provides services and changes to learning environments to enable disabled students to study with their peers.) My son left the 504. but now his problems have returned and are worse. I am exhausted trying to work, help my children, learn, and keep my sanity. I read recently that we’re going back to full-time teaching in California soon, but I’m not getting a clear picture of our school district. The potential return makes me both excited and nervous. I touch, but I think my question is, what are our rights as parents in our children’s education?
Dear Sunny: I am so sorry to hear that your children are having problems. The 2020-21 school year was a challenging time for parents and working parents. Your question is simple, but quite complicated. We tried to reconcile a pandemic and our children’s education. California has been a hotbed of COVID infection and has endured full home stay orders and modified home stay orders, which often vary between counties. Both private and public schools have applied for a waiver to reopen under state guidelines from the California Department of Health. While exemptions have been granted to private schools, the public school system seems to take longer to receive exemptions, and these students have primarily been out of the way for a year. Workers in our school systems and their unions also need to investigate the fact that educators have not been placed in the first tier of vaccinations. Many classrooms did not meet removal guidelines and schools had no plan for tracking / containing outbreaks. It became impossible to get a student through the different periods of a day without exposing each one several times a day.
The California Constitution has guaranteed children free elementary and secondary education since 1879 under Article IX, Section 5. The article states: “The legislature provides a typical school system according to which a free school is maintained and supported in each district for at least six months in every year after the first year a school was established. “Therefore, your children are eligible for free education that includes computers and materials that must be made available to them under Section 43503 of the California Education Code. But how can you provide adequate training during a global pandemic?
Distance learning, according to State Education Act 43500, means teaching where students and instructors are in different locations and students are under the general supervision of a certified employee of the education agency. Because of the outbreak, schools were forced to move away completely and then try a hybrid approach to special education at times.
Parents are struggling with online courses over time. I’ve heard parents complain that the courses for complicated subjects like math and chemistry were either too much or not adequately supported and understood. Unfortunately, just as the term “distance learning” is new in the Education Code, the mix of distance learning, hybrid learning, and face-to-face teaching is something that we didn’t have an overview of prior to this pandemic. Due to health concerns with COVID, face-to-face tuition was limited as state guidelines could not be followed in most middle and high schools. Primary schools had more freedom as the curriculum was based mainly on a single classroom assignment. Many elementary schools have now opened or are about to open, with districts considering what to do with middle and high school students.
The Code of Education offers free education; However, it does not dictate how a school district manages a program (whether remotely, hybrid, or in person). In-person tuition becomes even more complicated during a pandemic when IEPs and 504 plans are in place. These students require in-person tuition, sometimes with additional accommodation, and often cannot proceed with full online tuition.
Unfortunately, besides free classes, there are very few guides on how to mandate personal education instead of distance learning. We must adhere to the state’s opening guidelines and the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and try to do the best we can to balance the emotional and physical health of our children with the value of being in a classroom be. I hope that life will be brought back to life shortly, albeit in another.
Christopher B. Dolan is the owner of the Dolan, PC law firm. Aimee Kirby, executive attorney for the Torts Practice Group, is based in our Los Angeles office. We serve clients across the San Francisco Bay Area and California from our offices in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. Send questions and topics for future articles to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our work is not a restoration or is also known as contingency based. That means we don’t charge a fee unless we receive money for your damages and injuries.
California coronavirus education
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