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PALS April 15, 2020 Meeting - Q & A with FCASD, COVID-19 Resources

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

PALS Meeting Minutes

April 15, 2020 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.

Please scroll down for important resources shared during this meeting, including the latest war on IDEA and what you can do to help.


Tim Mahoney, Director of Special Education and Pupil Services of Fox Chapel Area School District will attempt to join each PALS meeting to provide updates and answer questions. If you have questions but are unable to attend the meeting please send it to and we share it with Tim and post the response in the next meeting minutes. Here are the questions from this week:

1. What is going on with student Speech Therapy services? We are still only receiving an e-mail providing sheet work and office hours instead of a way to schedule the required service time.

I am addressing (the issue) and (it) will be fixed in the future.  I know we have started Zoom and Google Meetings with many of our SLTs and I am supporting getting our others up and running.

2. What does the special education evaluation process look like right now? 

Evaluation looks differently based on the individual.  New testing can not be completed so we are contacting parents to schedule evaluation once we are allowed to return and have contact with students.  If any evaluation can be completed, we will do so within the timelines.  PDE offered the following statement:

USDE released the following guidance concerning IEP meetings, evaluations, and re-evaluations during the COVID-19 closure:~IEP teams are not required to meet in person while schools are closed. If an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed, so long as a student's parent or legal guardian consents. These same principles apply to similar activities conducted by appropriate personnel for a student with a disability who has a plan developed under Section 504, or who is being evaluated under Section 504.

3. What will IEP progress monitoring look like in this last quarter?

Progress monitoring will take place to the best ability possible.  We will progress monitor all goals unless we are physically unable to based on the school closure.  If we are unable to, we will meet and discuss with the parents to develop an alternative goal for the time of the closure.  We will not eliminate the need, but given the circumstances, we have to revise the goal to monitor progress as long as the team is in agreement.  Again, this is at the guidance of PDE.

Special education or related services may need to be adjusted through the IEP process. IEP teams should work to ensure that students are receiving appropriate services during the COVID-19 mandatory closure and ensuring alignment with aggressive social distancing guidelines. The mode of delivery might include schoolwork, packets, online learning, or some other appropriate learning adapted to the student's needs and individual situation. LEAs should continue to follow local policies regarding changing or amending an existing IEP.

According to previous guidance from the USDE Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), if an LEA continues to provide instruction to the general school population during an extended closure due to a disaster, but is not able to provide services to a student with a disability in accordance with the student's IEP, the student's IEP team determines which services can be provided to appropriately meet the student's needs.

4. How, specifically, is FCASD monitoring students to catch someone falling through the cracks? What is the response?

If we have a student struggling, we are contacting families with our school based supports.  These are our case managers, school counselors, MAPS personnel, behavior specialists, principals (etc).  If we still do not get contact with students, we begin well-visits with our SRO staff in district.  We have a number of families that we are adjusting workloads (materials/expectations), delivering food and providing in-person support so that we don't allow students to fall through any cracks.  These students are typically reported by teachers but we have also received contact from a few families who are struggling and we have supported them in this new environment.

5. The following question came before this afternoon’s FCASD blast about the extended closure. In an effort to help parents, is it possible to have work ready for a student to “wake up and go” instead of “wake up and wait”? For instance, some teachers are releasing the day’s work the night before or at the very least very early in the morning. This makes it easier for parents (especially those still working, or with multiple children) organize the work, print out what needs to be printed out and have a mental plan of what their child needs to accomplish that day. Others are not releasing work until after 8 or 9 a.m., making parents continuously revisit the site to see if the lesson has been uploaded. 

I will bring this to Dr. Harris and Dr. Constantine to touch-base with classroom teachers and principals.  Thank you for the feedback on this.


Important message from Pennsylvania Disability Rights!

Support Students with Disabilities in the Midst of COVID-19!

Once again, the rights of students with disabilities are on the chopping block. Here's the latest:

Congress has requested Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to recommend education waivers that would allow schools to drop services for students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. While schools are designing innovative new ways to bring the classroom to students who are quarantined at home, Secretary DeVos is devising ways for them to skip providing that same innovation to students with disabilities!

We need your help to stop Secretary DeVos!

You can do your part to protect the rights of students with disabilities by emailing your Representative and Senators and telling them not to adopt any waivers for educational services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Click here for more information on the subject from DisabilityScoop





From Open Up Pittsburgh

The Open Up team has been working hard to bring plans for accessible virtual practice to life. Today, we published our first digital book with written content as well as a video collections for all ages.

We look forward to sharing more resources from Open Up as we continue to work in the hopes of bringing a bit of lightness to our spaces.


From Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Intellectual Disability (OID)

The Home and Community Based Settings (HCBS) Final Rule, a federal policy change announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), provides new opportunities for people with disabilities to have the kinds of community services they want. From Learn more there.

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is offering webinars about Home and Community Based Services (HCBS / waiver services) and the Final Rule. If you have questions, please email Jamie at These webinars are supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.

HCBS Final Rule (for Family Members)

DATE: Monday April 20, 2020

TIME: 10:30 AM - 12 Noon

HCBS Settings Rule and Heightened Scrutiny

DATE: Thursday April 30, 2020

TIME: 10 AM - 11:30 AM


From The Peal Center


Participants will be able to:

• Discuss key points about SDI from the annotated IEP

• Describe various types of SDI

• Explain the difference between accommodations and modifications

• List examples of SDI that can be delivered virtually

Thursday, April 16th 12-1PM or 7-8PM

(click the drop down window to make your choice)

Visit for their complete calendar of events.


From The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education is pleased to announce the following online conference opportunity:

AAC Talks Spring 2020 Web Conference: Communicating All Day

Friday, May 8, 2020 8:45 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Join us for our second annual AAC Talks web conference designed to provide participants with ideas, strategies, and resources for supporting students with complex communication needs in multiple environments throughout the day. National and local presenters will discuss a variety of topics including engaging students, increasing communication opportunities, vocabulary selection, and access and positioning for AAC and classroom activities.

Presenters: Erin Sheldon, Lindsey Paden Cargill, Lauren Enders, Karen Kangas, and more

Credit: Act 48 Clock hours*

Note: Individuals attending this webinar conference must log in and out of each morning and/or afternoon webinar, including the Keynote, on time and stay for the duration of each session and must submit the online evaluation survey with all the appropriate codes by May 15, 2020 in order to receive Act 48 Professional Education hours. No partial credit will be given.

Registration Information:

You may register online by visiting the conference page at by clicking on the name of the event on the Training Events Calendar at

For content-related information and questions, please contact Tammy Thompson-Cooke at tcooke@pattan.netor 610-878-7205.

For general registration information and questions, please contact Annette Bauerlein at abauerlein@pattan.netor 610-878-7211


The Statewide Support & Referral Helpline is staffed by skilled and compassionate staff that are available 24/7 to respond to those struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency. Staff at the Helpline refer callers to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.

The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational.

The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

The Helpline was created by the Department of Human Services DHS and the Center for Community Resources (CCR). Helpline staff are trained to be accessible, culturally competent, and skilled at assisting individuals in the ID/A community as well as anyone else who might have a need – teens, adults, special populations and their supporters. Staff use the principles of trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, triage calls, and provide appropriate referral to community resources to children, teens, adults and special populations.


Center for Community Resources


From Fox Chapel Area School District:

The Fox Chapel Area School District is continuing weekly food distributions for our families. These distributions, consisting of five breakfasts and five lunches, will continue as long as the school district is closed.

Next week’s distribution will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at the back entrance of Kerr Elementary School.

We will continue to keep you informed of upcoming food distribution sessions as they are scheduled.


During this time, we will continue to host virtual meetings using Zoom EVERY Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.. We will post the log-in information for these meetings on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. THIS IS A PASSWORD PROTECTED MEETING. THE PASSWORD WAS E-MAIL TO ALL SUBSCRIBERS ON 4/13/20. YOU MAY SUBSCRIBE TO OUR E-MAIL LIST TO RECEIVE IT.

Reference Material

Need information regarding the rights to special education in Pennsylvania? The Education Law Center’s “A Guide for Parents and Advocates” is a great start.

Next Meeting: April 22, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom with Speaker Nancy E. Potter, Education Civil Rights Attorney from McAndrews Law Firm, P.C.. Nancy will provide a short presentation on navigating special eduction and accommodations while distance learning. You may remember Nancy from our October 2019 meeting. Catch up on the minutes of that meeting here

Upcoming Meeting: April 29, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom with Speaker Mary Evrard, Community and Communications Liaison Coordinator for Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Intellectual Disability (OID). Mary will talk waivers and welcomes your questions. Please e-mail questions in advance so Mary can come prepared with resources if available. You can e-mail your questions to

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