Petition for Emergency Access for Students with Special Needs
We, the undersigned parents, educators, and community members, urge immediate action to provide appropriate educational and therapeutic services to MCPS students with disabilities.

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Please sign this petition and share it widely,
We also invite you to Share Your Story
bit.ly/PTAtestify
so our elected officials can better understand how
virtual learning has affected students with disabilities.
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BACKGROUND:
MCPS schools have been closed for more than 10 months, and students with special needs—and their families—are suffering. While virtual learning has been challenging for many students, it has been especially difficult for students who have disabilities that prevent them from fully accessing the curriculum.

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities have individualized education programs (IEPs) that call for academic supports and goals that oftentimes cannot be delivered over Zoom at all or in an effective manner in a virtual setting. Additionally, many students need speech, occupational, and physical therapies, which, for many students, are simply not effective over Zoom.

The rate of regression and learning loss for students with disabilities in the distance learning environment is greater than that of typical peers.

We call on MCPS, the School Board, and County Council to approve an emergency solution to get these students the free and appropriate public education they are promised under IDEA.

We do not prescribe one specific solution, but we feel this could be accomplished in a number of ways, including
a) outdoor learning space could be used to deliver physical and occupational therapy sessions,
b) Equity Hubs (see FOOTNOTE) which currently operate within MCPS classrooms, could be a model for creating small Emergency IDEA classrooms,
c) home visits, or
d) MCPS could pay for or reimburse families for private therapies or placement in a private school that can deliver the services required by law.

We are also concerned about the backlog in educational testing to determine eligibility for services under IDEA, and urge MCPS to take immediate steps to evaluate students to ensure they are set up for success. Without testing, these families are stuck in a holding pattern and are at a significant disadvantage in accessing the curriculum as they await their evaluation

FOOTNOTE
Educational Enrichment and Equity Hubs (Equity Hubs) were created in September 2020 as a public-private partnership to provide access to safe, supervised, and consistent learning environments for MCPS’s most at-risk students. We fully support the extension and expansion of Equity Hubs. Unfortunately, Equity Hubs are not staffed or equipped to support students with disabilities.

ABOUT THIS PETITION:
This petition was created by the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) Virtual Learning Committee, which advocates for all MCPS students to succeed during virtual learning. Please contact the committee with any questions or feedback at VirtualLearning@MCCPTA.org
(Please note that at this time we are not taking a position on the larger issue of school re-opening, just on the need for an emergency solution for students with disabilities.)

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PLEASE GO TO THIS NEW LINK TO SIGN THE PETITION bit.ly/PTA-petition
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