Return to Learn


6/2020 - Return-to-Learn Plan 2020-21

This page provides guidance from the Iowa Department of Education on what Return-to-Learn plans must include for the 2020-21 School Year.

Read the PDF on IDOE's Return-to-Learn Here

7/06/2020 - Q & A on concerns about IDEA Part C Evaluations & Assessment Times during COVID-19

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), within the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, issues this Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C evaluation and assessment timelines in the current COVID-19 environment.

Read the PDF from the US Department of Education

Model Form to Assist Parent(s)/Guardian(s) in Requesting a Mediation Conference

Use this for to request a Mediation Conference. You will need to explain the nature of the problem, the facts of this case relating to the above problem and your proposed resolution of the problem.

See the EducateIowa.Gov Requesting Mediation Form

8/20/2020 - Remote Learning vs Homebound vs Homeschool: Helping Education Leaders and Communities Identify the Key Differences

Sometimes people think that remote learning, homebound services, and homeschooling are the same thing, but they are not. Each have state specific policies and procedures for implementation. Remote learning is an alternative instructional learning model being utilized in school systems across the county in various ways as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Review the comparison below to understand the key differences in each and how IDEA provisions apply.

Read the NASDSE PDF

Infographic - Participating in Virtual IEP Meetings

At times, you may not be able to join a special education meeting in person. Fortunately, technology allows meetings to be held virtually, by phone or via the Internet. This is now happening with many different kinds of meetings-IEP Team meetings, mediations, resolution sessions, and due process hearings.

Check out the IDEAs that Work Infographic

Checklists for IEP teams - Discussions and Decisions

These checklists were developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist teams planning for unique learning environments, however many of the questions will be useful for IEP teams in other situations. The first set of questions is written with the family perspective and the second list offers questions with the perspective of educators and related service professionals.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Procedural Safeguard Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education)

Parents have rights, known as procedural safeguards, which apply to every aspect of the special education process. State and federal laws and regulations outline what needs to happen to ensure that children with identified disabilities and on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This document serves as your procedural safeguards notice and will help you understand the rights available to you and your child through a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education.

Read the EducateIowa.Gov PDF

7/20/2020 - Placement Decisions During COVID-19 Pandemic

Placement decisions for eligible students can be, in the best of times, tricky for IEP teams, including the family. Add in the changing nature of educational services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and placement decisions become challenging, if not overwhelming, for IEP teams. This document is intended to help IEP teams clarify the factors to be considered when determining placement during continuous learning/virtual and hybrid delivery of general and special educatio.

Read the IDE Guidance PDF Here

7/30/2020 - Return to Learn: Evaluating Sick Students and Staff - Reopening Iowa's Schools Safely and Responsibly

This is a chart showing the evaluation of sick students and staff, symptoms and how the schools will proceed.

Read the IDOE & IDPH - PDF

Prior Written Notice

A Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a written explanation of a change the school district or AEA wants to make or refuses to make in a child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP). It is important that parents understand what the school plans to do (or not do) for their child. A PWN must give parents the information they need to actively participate in making decisions about their child's educational program and services.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Special Education Dispute Resolution Options

We still disagree-What is the next step? After a parent receives a Prior Written Notice (PWN) about a proposed change or refused action and continue to disagree with the school, they have choices for how to resolve those differences. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) outlines three resolution options, they are: State Mediation, Due Process and State Complaint. The table below explains the basics of each Special Education resolution

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

7/20/2020 - COVID-19 Recovery Services for Learners Receiving IDEA Services Q&A

COVID-19 Recovery Services for Learners Receiving IDEA Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Read the IDE Guidance PDF Here

7/01/ 2020 - Open Enrollment Guidance for SF 2310

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance following the approval of Senate File (SF) 2310 by theIowa Legislature. SF 2310 extends the deadline for parents or guardians to apply to a district with an approved online program. Parents or guardians must submit the application, using the form developed by the Department, to the resident district and to the receiving district by July 15, 2020.

Read the PDF from the IDOE

Due Process Complaint (Request for Due Process Hearing)

You may use this form if you want to file a due process complaint and request a due process hearing. That process is explained on pages 16 through 24 of the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education). After you complete this form, send copies to (1) the school district(s) involved, (2) the AEA(s) involved, and (3) the Iowa Department of Education, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0146.

See the EducateIowa.Gov Due Process Complaint Form

7/21/20 - Considerations for IEP Teams Regarding How to Address Progress Monitoring

"Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to assess students' academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or with an entire class"

Read the AEA's Google Document

7/30/2020 - Return to Learn: Community Transmission/Strategy Chart

This is a chart showing community transmission, suggested strategies and the return to learn models that go with each stage.

Read the IDOE & IDPH - PDF

7/30/2020 - Return to Learn: Reopening Iowa's Schools Safely and Responsibly

This guidance was written by the Iowa Department of Education (Department) in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and is intended to help districts (1) determine when to use each of the Return-to-Learn models they have planned for during the 2020-2021 school year, and (2) handle potential and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in schools. This guidance should be read in conjunction with prior guidance on Return-to-Learn supports, Senate File 2310, and Reopening Guidance. Please consult the Department's Return-to-Learn Google site for the latest supports for schools.

Read the IDOE & IDPH - PDF

6/26/20 - FERPA, IEPs and Virtual Learning

This document is intended to answer common questions regarding obligations to meet FERPA requirements while serving learners with disabilities through virtual learning (i.e., Continuous Learning). It is not intended to provide a comprehensive discussion of FERPA regulations. This resource is organized around three topical areas of consideration: Virtual IEPs or other Confidential Meetings, Virtual Lessons and Collection of Data.

Read the AEA's Google Document

7/13/20 - FAPE Considerations for Return to Learn

The disruption caused by the reaction to the coronavirus affected every area of society, including education. This disruption exposed the need for the education system to anticipate a significant interruption of services and be prepared to continue educational services. In order to support a fluid change in the delivery of services so that educational services are not interrupted in the future, IEP teams need to discuss and decide the services and supports a student will need in a variety of educational delivery models. Iowa schools are currently planning for three possible models: On-Site (brick and mortar), Hybrid, and Continuous Learning (virtual). Regardless of the delivery model used (On-Site, Continuous Learning/virtual, or Hybrid), districts must ensure that eligible individuals receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE is determined individually based on a complex intertwining of concepts, meaning that FAPE will look different for each eligible individual.

Read the AEA's Google Document

Virtual IEP Meeting Tip Sheets

This resource was developed in response to requests from state and local educational agencies and parents about how to hold and participate in virtual individualized education program (IEP) meetings. While intended to meet a need during the current COVID-19 pandemic, we hope the content will have broader application.

Read the IDEAs that Work PDF

Sample letter requesting IEP meeting during school closure

This letter is designed to be used during a school closure but could be changed to meet other situations when a family would like an IEP meeting. The details of a student's situation should be added to the sample letter before sending to a Special Education Teacher, Principal, Special Education Director or Superintendent. Remember to keep a copy for yourself, including the date it was sent.

Read the ASK PDF

7/21/2020 - Return-to-Learn: Placement Considerations for Administrators

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and families are being asked to consider all possible platforms for specially designed instruction for students with individual education plans (IEPs). Doing so ensures their access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), as well as their ability to continue to receive services regardless of the designation of the Return-to-Learn plan outlined by their district. This document discusses various options for IEP teams to consider. For discussion of placement considerations, see the Department's placement decisions guidance.

Read the AEA's Google Document

7/30/2020 - Return to Learn: Reopening Iowa's Schools Safely and Responsibly

This guidance was written by the Iowa Department of Education (Department) in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and is intended to help districts (1) determine when to use each of the Return-to-Learn models they have planned for during the 2020-2021 school year, and (2) handle potential and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in schools. This guidance should be read in conjunction with prior guidance on Return-to-Learn supports, Senate File 2310, and Reopening Guidance. Please consult the Department's Return-to-Learn Google site for the latest supports for schools.

Read the IDOE & IDPH - PDF

IDEA State Complaint Form

You may use this form if you want to file an IDEA state complaint. That process is explained on pages 15 through 16 of the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education). After you complete this form, send copies to (1) the school district(s) involved, (2) the AEA(s) involved, and (3) the Iowa Department of Education, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0146.

See the EducateIowa.Gov Complaint Form

6/25/20 - Electronic Signatures

Electronic signatures are an acceptable and convenient means of obtaining consent for IDEA administrative purposes at any time. The convenience of electronic signatures has become even more apparent during this response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This support document provides reminders of when consent is needed for IDEA administrative procedures and suggestions for ways to obtain the electronic signature. The information provided here is not to be confused with consent to receive electronic information or privacy requirements for provision of teleservices.

Read the AEA's Google Document

6/25/20 - Considerations for Acquiring Technology to Ensure Access of Students Receiving Special Education

As part of their Return-to-Learn plans, district and nonpublic school leaders are tasked with ensuring that remote learning options are available for all students, including those with disabilities. The following considerations were developed to assist administrators in planning for the need and acquisition of instructional and assistive technology, ensuring that all learners have the tools they require to participate and make progress in the Iowa Core Standards.

Read the AEA's Google Document

8/19/20 ASK an Expert Webinar with Dr. Barb Guy

Dr. Guy provides an overview of Return 2 Learn concepts and guidance, orients the audience to the department's Return 2 Learn resources, and provides answers to some of the questions families most frequently contact the ASK an Advocate Helpline about regarding Return 2 Learn.

Watch the ASK an Expert Video

Sample Letter Requesting Prior Written Notice

This is an example letter for parents requesting written notice. The most important parts of the letter will be the blanks filled in with details from the parents! Parents are welcome to use part or all of the sample letter.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

ASK Resource Center - Authorization to Release Information

This form allows authorization for the individuals, agencies, or organizations listed on it to release, exchange and discuss confidential information regarding my child with ASK Resource Center including verbal and/or written exchange of information, access to educational records and access to the following records (list any educational, healthcare, or other records requested). This release is valid for a period of one year, unless withdrawn or superseded in writing prior to that time.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

7/13/20 - Return-to-Learn: IDEA Service Delivery Scenarios

The purpose of this document is to support teams in navigating between appropriate methods of service delivery for students in a Continuous Learning (i.e., virtual) model. These services can and may change throughout the school year and between settings as teams determine what is required to best meet student needs.

Read the AEA's Google Document

7/20/2020 - Senate File 2310 and Governor's Proclamation Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to guidance issued to help districts and schools implement the requirements of Senate File 2310 of the 88th General Assembly, signed into law on June 29, 2020, by Governor Reynolds. The FAQ is meant to be read with the original guidance. You may also wish to refer to Governor Reynolds' proclamation from July 17, 2020.

Read the IDOE Guidance PDF Here

School Accommodations and Modifications: A Parent and Child Checklist

It is important to identify, discuss, and include accommodations and modifications necessary to meet the specific needs of a student in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students who receive services under a 504 Plan also need the same kind of individual attention to their plans for accommodations and modifications. The following checklist might be a good starting point for you and your child to think about his or her individual needs to include in the IEP or 504 Plan.

Read the PACER Center PDF

10/22/2020 - Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C provision of service in the current COVID-19 environment.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), within the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, issues this Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C provision of service in the current COVID-19 environment.

Read the U.S. Department of Education PDF