Dr. Kathryn Krase

Dr. Kathryn Krase, associate professor, and Prof. Daniel Pollack, professor, at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, have co-authored “A Call for New Legal Standards of Educational Neglect, Especially Regarding Special Needs” for the New York Law Journal (July 10, 2020).

“Parents and guardians of school-age children are struggling with some daunting realities in this current crisis. With parts of the country still under months-long stay-at-home orders, and schools closed by law for the foreseeable future, parents are expected to keep their household physically safe from COVID-19 and their children emotionally protected from stress and anxiety, while simultaneously managing harsh fiscal realities, all the while being responsible for supporting their school-aged children’s education. While concern for parents is universal, the complicated position of an important subset of this population is often overlooked: parents of children with special needs….

Daniel Pollack

Prof. Daniel Pollack

These responsibilities have become more complex, and less clear, with the advent of COVID-19. Balancing the right of parents to provide for the education of their children free from government limitation with the state’s obligation to ensure that each child receives a meaningful education has never been more nuanced. State level educational neglect statutes already give considerable discretion as to how school districts apply these policies to parents of students with special education needs. The current crisis only exacerbates the opaqueness.

Ironically, the present COVID-19 crisis may give parents, legislators, and school officials a unique opportunity to modify and codify best practices to prevent and respond to allegations of educational neglect of special needs children.

“We are at a critical juncture in society where systems have the opportunity to review and revise to better meet the needs of those they serve. We cannot rely upon the systems already in place to appropriately respond to the unique realities we face today.”

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