Entries by Christina Henagen Peer

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CDC Urges Schools to Open for In-Person Learning Safely and Soon

February 18, 2021 Stressing the importance of in-person learning, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released guidance to open and operate K-12 schools in ways that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (COVID). The CDC’s guidance includes detailed steps for districts, which are summarized below. Employ the following mitigation strategies to reduce the […]

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Updated Ohio Department of Education Guidance Regarding Students with Disabilities During the State’s School-Building Closure

March 30, 2020  On March 27, 2020, the Ohio Department of Education issued updated guidance clarifying its previously issued guidance document of March 18, 2020 entitled “Considerations for Students with Disabilities during Ohio’s Ordered School-Building Closure.” The updated guidance document attempts to clarify some of the concerns raised by stakeholders in an attempt to interpret […]

ODE Proposes Rule Changes and Calls for Comments

The Ohio Department of Education has posted a variety of proposed changes to the Operating Standards, and is soliciting comments on those proposed changes through July 31, 2020.  While everyone’s focus is understandably the safe reopening of schools this fall, we encourage everyone to spend time reviewing the proposed changes and to submit comments.  We specifically urge […]

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Ohio H.B. 110 Allows for Creation of Online Learning Schools

July 12, 2021 On July 1, 2021, Governor DeWine signed H.B. 110, Ohio’s 2022-2023 biennial budget, into law, which allows local, city, exempted village and joint vocational school districts (“school districts”) to request to use an “online learning model” through the creation of an “online learning school.” Online learning is defined as a scenario where […]


Department of Labor: Employees Can Use FMLA to Attend IEP Meetings

On August 8, 2019, the Department of Labor released an opinion clarifying that attending an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting constitutes a reason for intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the FMLA, an eligible employee of a covered employer may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave per […]

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New State and Federal Guidance for Special Education Related to COVID-19 Closures

June 30, 2020 ODE Guidance On June 29, 2020, the Ohio Department of Education issued “COVID-19 Guidance: Data Reporting for Students with Disabilities FAQ.” The guidance addresses EMIS reporting for noncompliance events that occurred due to the COVID-19 school-building closure during the 2019-2020 school year.  The bottom line from the guidance is summarized as follows: […]

Supreme Court Declines to Review Transgender Restroom Policy of Pennsylvania School

On May 28, 2019, the United States Supreme Court declined to review a Pennsylvania school district’s policy allowing transgender students to use locker rooms and restrooms based on their gender identity. The Court declined this case without comment. In 2017, a Pennsylvania federal court upheld a Boyertown Area School District policy allowing transgender students to […]

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U.S. Department of Education Approves Funding for Continued Learning During Pandemic

April 10, 2020 U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has authorized flexible funding to states to better serve the needs of students and educators throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The new flexibilities, introduced under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allow schools to re-purpose existing K-12 education funds to the areas of highest […]

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Ohio Department of Education Extends Eligibility Under Developmental Delay for Students Transitioning from Preschool to Kindergarten

June 30, 2020  On June 30, 2020, the Ohio Department of Education announced that preschool students with disabilities who were identified under the category of “developmental delay” for the 2019-2020 school year will be able to transition to kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year without undergoing an evaluation to determine a school-age disability category.  These […]

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Governor DeWine Announces Ohio Health Orders to End on June 2, 2021; Schools Left with Choice to Continue Requiring Masks

May 17, 2021 Ohio’s health orders will end on June 2, 2021, more than a full year after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine first enacted the orders. Prior restrictions will remain in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but all other public health orders such as capacity limits, social distancing and the mask mandate will come […]

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New Guidance for Early Intervention to Preschool Transition

June 18, 2020  Several Ohio agencies are providing guidance regarding serving children with disabilities who are transitioning from Part C Early Intervention to Part B special education preschool services. The guidance, developed by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), in collaboration with the Ohio Association of County […]

Title IX Protection Extends to Students Who Are Gay & Transgender

June 23, 2021  The U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will fully enforce Title IX to prohibit schools that receive federal financial assistance from discriminating against students based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The DOE recently issued this revised interpretation in a federal notice. Prior to the notice, OCR’s […]

Federal program to offer webinars on website accessibility

  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched an initiative to make more websites and online programs accessible for individuals with disabilities. OCR will offer technical assistance and design suggestions via a series of webinars to schools, districts, state education agencies, libraries, colleges and universities. The webinars are intended for […]

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CDC and State Department of Health Issue New COVID Guidance for Ohio School Districts

July 28, 2021  On July 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued this update recommending “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccinations status.” The update comes one day after the Ohio Department of Health (“ODH”) released this COVID-19 guidance for Ohio K-12 […]

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Ohio Department of Education Issues COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions Document for Ohio School Districts

March 16, 2020  On March 14, 2020, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document designed to “help school and district leaders think through important local-level decisions.”  The FAQ document indicates it was developed in partnership with Ohio’s education associations as well as some of Ohio’s most trusted and innovative […]

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Don’t Forget About ADA Accessibility When Planning Virtual Graduation Ceremonies

May 5, 2020  School-building closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have Ohio districts preparing for a very different kind of student graduation this year. The Ohio Department of Education is urging all school districts to utilize alternative ideas for a commencement ceremony, as opposed to postponing the ceremony until later in the summer. The guidance […]

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Guidance Issued Regarding Districts’ Obligations to Students Suffering from “Long COVID” Under the IDEA and Section 504

August 2, 2021 On July 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) published a joint resource to provide information about school districts’ obligations to students for whom COVID is a disability, also referred to as “long COVID.”  Per the Centers […]


Decoding Ohio’s New Truancy Law for Students with Disabilities

  When Ohio updated its truancy law in 2017, the move required schools to emphasize prevention over punishment. Lawmakers shifted the focus from court proceedings to intervention strategies in schools, hoping students will return to the classroom and face a better chance for academic success. In the process, the juvenile justice system can reduce its […]

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Ohio Releases Guidance for School Districts on Extended Learning Plans for Students

February 15, 2021  The Ohio Department of Education released this FAQ bulletin to help public school districts learn more about Governor DeWine’s announcement from his press conference on February 9, 2021, to create extended learning plans for students by April 1, 2021. DeWine recently called on school districts in a press conference to formulate and […]

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U.S. Department of Education Releases “Roadmap” to Return to In-Person Learning

August 3, 2021 On August 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released the “Return to School Roadmap,” a resource to students, educators, school districts and parents in preparation for the return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. As schools begin to reopen nationwide, the roadmap is intended to serve as a […]

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Ohio Department of Health Extends Contact Sports Order, Clarifies Definition of Contact Sports

August 4, 2020  On August 1, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) issued a third Order related to contact sports, which extends the expiration date of its second amended Order. Notably, unlike previous orders that had a set expiration date, the third Order will remain in effect until either the State of Emergency declared […]