Parent FAQ

Fall 2020 Parent Special Education Questions

General Questions about Special Education


Who is the IEP (Individualized Education Program) Case Manager?

This is the school employee who coordinates your student’s IEP team and should be your main contact regarding special education services. This is generally your student’s special education teacher, but for a student receiving only communication services, it could be a Speech Language Pathologist.


Could the case manager be different from the “advisory” teacher (at the high school level)?

Yes. It appears that the “advisor” term is something that populates from Skyward. It is NOT related to special education.


When can I expect to hear from my student’s case manager?

Please see the Student Support web site for information regarding Fall 2020 contact timelines.


How can I get new (or ongoing) medical information to my IEP team, school or district?

Please speak to your IEP case manager. If your student requires a health plan to attend school, you will be contacted by a school nurse or they will attend your IEP meeting. Optionally, you may also sign a Release of Information form that allows the district to receive information from your providers.


What is a self-contained program?

A self-contained program is designed to meet the needs of students who are unable to make progress on their IEP goals with the Special Education services available at their neighborhood school. Students in a self-contained program generally spend a significant portion of their day receiving specially designed instruction in these programs. Olympia School District’s self-contained programs include DLC, Life Skills, LEAP and HOPE.

What are recovery services?

Recovery services are services designed to address learning loss that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 school facilities closure. The need for recovery services will be determined upon the resumption of in-person services. The factors that will be considered when making this determination include the student’s participation in distance learning activities and the student’s progress on their goals before and after the school facilities closure.

Would my student’s case manager stay the same for all four years of high school?

Not necessarily. There are various reasons the case manager could change including staff turnover, change in services a student qualifies for, etc. You will be contacted by your case manager per the schedule indicated on the Student Support website.



Questions about IEPs and Evaluations


My student’s IEP or evaluation was postponed in the spring due to the facility closure. When can I expect this to be completed?

OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) has mandated that all postponed paperwork from the spring be completed within the first 30 school days (Oct 21st).

What is the timeline for reviews of IEPs this fall?

We are asking that all IEP teams meet and review, amend or re-write IEPs by October 9th.

Will all 504s also be reviewed by October 9th?


Will parents be contacted before the IEP review takes place?

Yes. You are a member of the IEP team and must be invited to the meeting (or give your consent for the meeting to occur without you) and have an opportunity to provide input into its development.


Does this mean when our students return to in person schooling, will the IEP goals return to the goals that they were prior to COVID? Or will they be reevaluated and a new IEP be written? 

The IEP team will need to convene and determine what the appropriate goals would be after the change in settings. The team may decide the goals continue to be appropriate, need to be modified, or changed. This will be based on individual student need. Pre-school facilities closure Goals should be considered upon the resumption of in-person services.


Questions about In-Person Instruction

I hear that students receiving special education services might have access to small in-person groups at school. Will that be happening?

Yes. Thurston County Public Health and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction have recognized that despite the directive to begin the school year in a distance learning format, there may be circumstances in which in-person instruction may be necessary and warranted in order to address the needs of students. The need for in-person services will need to be determined on an individual basis by your child’s IEP team.

Which students will be considered for in-person instruction?

Currently, we are seeking information regarding interest from parents for students who receive the majority of their instruction in the DLC and Life Skills programs. The IEP teams will collect data on goals to determine the potential need for in person instruction.

If my student has determined to be in need of in-person services, but we would prefer to continue with distance learning, is that an option?

My student is not in a self-contained program, will they be considered for in-person instruction?

IEP teams will review each student’s needs, including their experience with distance learning to date, which may result in consideration of in-person instruction.

If in-person instruction is not beginning on Sept. 9th, and my student is unable to access distance learning, will my student be provided additional services at the end of the school year to make up for lost instruction?

The need for additional services will be an individual determination made by the student’s IEP team.

Will students who have services in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and/or Speech Therapy receive them through zoom or in-person?

This will be decided by the IEP team based on student need. In-person instruction is currently limited to students who are unable to make progress on IEP goals via distance learning. 

If my student is unable to wear a mask (for health or cognitive ability reasons), does this mean they will be ineligible to receive in-person services?

A student’s inability to wear a mask due to their disability will not necessarily prevent them from accessing in-person services.

Will transportation be provided for students who are accessing in-person special education services?



Questions about Distance Learning

How long will Olympia School District be in a distance learning format?

The Department of Health has published a Decision Tree for the provision of in-person learning Among Public and Private K-12 Students During COVID-19. 

Will staff be able to provide packets or other learning materials for home?

Yes. This is an accommodation that may be determined necessary by your student’s IEP team.

Will students be able to check out support items they would have access to in person such as wobble stools, manipulatives, technology, etc. for home use?

If the items are identified by the IEP as necessary for the student to access distance learning, yes. 

What is the plan for students enrolled in preschool programs?

Preschool programs will be provided in a distance learning model consistent with the vast majority of all Special Education services pursuant to country health directives. The need for in-person services will be determined for individual students by IEP teams.

Regarding confidentiality, are parents allowed to watch their child’s screen during distance learning?


Our household has parents that work during the day. What assistance is there for us?

We acknowledge that this is a difficult situation impacting many of our families, including the families of students with disabilities. Your special education team should consider use of Specially Designed Instruction that can benefit students outside of the school day, such as asynchronous learning activities. Additionally, school teams are happy to work with child care providers during the school day to support Special Education students. Some resources for seeking child care include:


Given that all IEPs are to be reviewed prior to October 9th, how will this impact the services my student receives? Will services be starting on the first day of school?

The requirement to review IEPs may result in a temporary interruption or disruption of services. 

Will a student’s schedule be able to be adjusted for work times to be when a parent is able to work beside them? 

The Olympia School District’s Reopening plan states that teachers are to provide learning experiences that are both synchronous (all students learning at the same time) and asynchronous (students not necessarily learning at the same time). Additionally, IEP teams will work, to the extent feasible, with families to schedule services at a time most convenient for them.


My student has a 1:1 (student-specific) paraeducator. How will they be utilized during distance learning?

The use of student-specific paraeducators will be determined by the IEP team. Some examples of appropriate use of student-specific paraprofessionals include:


  • Supporting the student during general education instruction in-session or in a break out session.
  • Supporting the student during special education instruction in-session or in a break out session.
  • Supporting the student with accessing asynchronous general education or special education activities/assignments.


Could my student’s 1:1 paraeducator come to our home to provide services?

Not at this time. 

Will universal learning design methods be embraced by teachers to allow students to prove their understanding in a format that is accessible to them?

There is an explicit expectation that general education and special education teachers will collaborate on their instruction to promote accessible activities. Predictable schedules of intervention/instruction and collaboration plans with general education staff will be established for all students with IEP-based services. As this collaboration occurs, necessary materials will be determined and made available to teaching staff. These types of materials are an appropriate use of Special Education funding.



Questions about Distance Learning


Is there training or practice available for parents to help our students get used to Chromebooks, Schoology, etc?

The Olympia School District Technology Department will be launching a Family Technology Resource Center website which will provide information for families about Schoology, Zoom, Remind and other technology tools. All families, districtwide, will be provided the link to that site as soon as it is launched. Please refer to the OSD technology web site  for more information on supporting families with technology access.

Are the online programs Apple accessible for those IEP students who require assistive technology on an IPad? If not, are alternative programs that will be provided to the students who require an IPad to access their education?

Student-specific technology needs will be addressed by IEP teams. If there is a need for a specific type of technology/program, OSD’s technology department, assistive technology specialist, and instructional coaches can support teams with accommodations for students.

Will IEP teams and teachers be encouraged to access the to help their students gain the education and technology most accessible to them?

Yes. Our school district’s Assistive Technology Specialist consults  with the SETC to assist with providing recommended accommodations to students. Our IEP teams are encouraged to collaborate with our AT specialist to meet student-specific needs.
Information current as of 9/18/2020