Geneva's Guidance

Getting FERPA-Smart in the Virtual Learning World

As many Texas schools are being rapidly compelled into the virtual learning world, school districts should consider providing professional development to teachers on how to protect student privacy in the video or virtual world.

FERPA is the federal law that protects the privacy of personally identifiable information in students’ educational records. Current technology and telecommunication have expanded the opportunity for distance learning to virtually any student with internet and through pre-recorded video or telephone conference to student’s without reliable internet access. Many earlier technologies did not naturally lend themselves to concerns over student privacy because the nature of the technology did not automatically disclose names, photos, locations, or real-time video of students. Times have changed. Prudence suggests that school districts must equip their teachers with an understanding of how to protect the privacy of all students in the virtual world. We offer video professional development on FERPA...

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Statewide School Closures and Funding Quid Pro Quo Mark a Turning Point for Special Education

On March 19, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott announced a statewide order in response to new federal guidance from the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) and a dramatic increase to the number of Texan’s infected and diseased from the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The order includes four limitations or prohibitions, including an executive order for the temporary closure of all Texas schools until, at the earliest, April 3, 2020. Notably, despite the statement made by Governor Abbott during the announcement, and suggestions from the media, the Executive Order is void of any requirement that school districts provide education during the closure.

Many superintendents agreed in the past weeks to provide distance learning in exchange for funding. However, some school districts had opted to remain open, and others were planning short term temporary closures such as extending their spring break and thereby not providing instruction during the brief shutdown. The Governor’s order has...

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While neither the United States Department of Education (“USDOE”), nor Texas Education Agency (“TEA”) has yet to provide specific guidance for public school district on providing educational services to students with disabilities during school closure, the following guidance is based upon federal and state law and best practices. PYT attorneys are available 24/7 during this crisis to answer any questions, prepare the below recommended written notices and waivers, and provide guidance specific to your school district. As always, we will continue to disseminate information and advice as soon as it becomes available.

Closing Schools and Not Providing Education During Closure

If a school district closes to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus (“Coronavirus”) and does not provide any educational services to the general education student population, then the school district is not required to provide services to students with disabilities during that time. If no education is provided during emergency closure, we recommend:

• The no service school...

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