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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
July 15, 2020

Dear County and District Superintendents, Special Education Local Plan Area Directors, Special Education Administrators at County Offices, Special Education Program Directors, Charter School Administrators, Principals, and Nonpublic School Directors:

2020 Budget Act and Special Education

On June 29, 2020, Governor Newsom signed the 2020 Budget Act and accompanying budget-implementing legislation, including Senate Bill (SB) 98 (Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020), the education omnibus trailer bill. The purpose of this notice is to outline some notable changes related to special education and distance learning enacted with the 2020 Budget Act.

Individualized Education Program Requirements

SB 98, Section 66, amends Section 56345 of the California Education Code (EC) to require that individualized education programs (IEPs) include a description of the means by which the IEP will be provided under emergency conditions, as described in EC 46392, in which instruction or services, or both, cannot be provided to the pupil either at the school or in person for more than 10 school days. Specifically, SB 98 adds EC 56345(a)(9)(A-C), which states:

(9)(A) A description of the means by which the individualized education program (IEP) will be provided under emergency conditions, as described in Section 46392, in which instruction or services, or both, cannot be provided to the pupil either at the school or in person for more than 10 school days. The description shall include all of the following:

(i) Special education and related services.

(ii) Supplementary aids and services.

(iii) Transition services, as defined in Section 56345.1.

(iv) Extended school year services pursuant to Section 300.106 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(B) Subparagraph (A) shall apply, on or after the operative date of this paragraph, to the development of an initial individualized education program or the next regularly scheduled revision of an individualized education program that has not already met the requirements of subparagraph (A).

(C) Public health orders shall be taken into account in implementing subparagraph (A).

The description required by EC 56345(a)(9)(A) must be included in the development of each student’s initial IEP or addressed during the next regularly scheduled revision of students’ IEPs (i.e. annual IEP).

Distance Learning

SB 98, Section 34, includes new requirements for distance learning services in the 2020-21 school year, including defining “distance learning” in EC 43500(a) as:

. . . instruction in which the pupil and instructor are in different locations and pupils are under the general supervision of a certificated employee of the local educational agency. Distance learning may include, but is not limited to, all of the following:

(1) Interaction, instruction, and check-ins between teachers and pupils through the use of a computer or communications technology.

(2) Video or audio instruction in which the primary mode of communication between the pupil and certificated employee is online interaction, instructional television, video, telecourses, or other instruction that relies on computer or communications technology.

(3) The use of print materials incorporating assignments that are the subject of written or oral feedback.

In contrast, EC 43500(b) defines “in-person instruction” as “instruction under the immediate physical supervision and control of a certificated employee of the local educational agency (LEA) while engaged in educational activities required of the pupil.”

EC 43503(b) requires that distance learning shall include several components, including:

(4) Special education, related services, and any other services required by a pupil’s individualized education program pursuant to Section 56341, including the requirements of subparagraph (A) of paragraph (9) of subdivision (a) of Section 56345, with accommodations necessary to ensure that individualized education program can be executed in a distance learning environment.

Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan

SB 98, Section 34, in EC 43509(a)(1)(A), requires the governing board of a school district, a county board of education, and the governing body of a charter school to adopt, by September 30, 2020, a learning continuity and attendance plan for the
2020-21 school year. EC 43509(f) requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop a template for the learning continuity and attendance plan on or before August 1, 2020.

The learning continuity and attendance plan must include what additional supports will be provided for pupils with exceptional needs served across the full continuum of placements during the period in which distance learning is provided (EC 43509(f)(1)(B)(vi)). Additionally, EC 43509(f)(1) specifies that the learning continuity and attendance plan shall include:

(C) How the school district, county office of education, or charter school will address pupil learning loss that results from COVID-19 during the 2019–20 and 2020–21 school years, including all of the following:

(i) How the school district, county office of education, or charter school will assess pupils to measure pupil learning status, particularly in the areas of English language arts, English language development, and mathematics.

(ii) What actions and strategies the school district, county office of education, or charter school will use to address learning loss and accelerate learning progress for pupils, as needed, and how these strategies differ for pupils who are classified as English learners, are eligible for a free or reduced-price meal, or are foster youth, as those terms are defined in Section 42238.01, individuals with exceptional needs, pupils in foster care, and pupils who are experiencing homelessness.

(iii) How the effectiveness of the services or supports provided to address learning loss will be measured, actions and strategies the school district, county office of education, or charter school will use to address learning loss and accelerate learning progress for pupils, as needed, and how these strategies differ for individuals with exceptional needs.

Funding to Mitigate Learning Loss

SB 98 appropriates funding to support pupil achievement and mitigate learning loss. EC 43509(f)(2) specifies that the learning continuity and attendance plan shall describe how federal and state funding will be used to support the efforts described in the learning continuity and attendance plan, including federal and state funds provided for learning loss mitigation pursuant to Section 110 of SB 98. Subsection 110(d) specifies that certain funds shall be used for activities that directly support pupil academic achievement and mitigate learning loss related to COVID-19 school closures, and shall be expended for any of the following purposes:

(1) Addressing learning loss or accelerating progress to close learning gaps through the implementation, expansion, or enhancement of learning supports that begin before the start of the school year and the continuation of intensive instruction and supports into the school year.

(2) Extending the instructional school year by making adjustments to the academic calendar, increasing the number of instructional minutes provided during each week or school day, or taking any other action that increases the amount of instructional time or services provided to pupils based on their learning needs.

(3) Providing additional academic services for pupils, such as diagnostic assessments of pupil learning needs, intensive instruction for addressing gaps in core academic skills, additional instructional materials or supports, or devices or connectivity for the provision of in-classroom and distance learning.

(4) Providing integrated pupil supports to address other barriers to learning, such as the provision of health, counseling, or mental health services, professional development opportunities to help teachers and parents support pupils in distance-learning contexts, access to school breakfast and lunch programs, or programs to address pupil trauma and social-emotional learning.

LEAs are encouraged to carefully review the 2020 Budget Act and implementing legislation, including the required components of the IEP, distance learning, and learning and continuity plans outlined in SB 98, in order to plan for services to students with disabilities in the upcoming school year.

Should there be any questions related to the above information, please contact the Special Education Division via email at SEDinfo@cde.ca.gov or the appropriate Focused Monitoring and Technical Assistance (FMTA) Consultant using the contact information provided on the CDE FMTA Consultant Assignments by Region web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/qa/fmtacncnt.asp.

Sincerely,

Original signed by Sarah Neville-Morgan. A hard copy of the signed document is available by contacting the Special Education Division's Director's Office by phone at 916-445-4602.

Sarah Neville-Morgan, Deputy Superintendent
Opportunities for All Branch

SNM:sw

Last Reviewed: Monday, July 27, 2020

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