Special Education and Student Services During COVID-19

  • Frequently Asked Questions for Special Education during COVID-19 School Closure (Revised 5/19/20)

    The Special Education Department is committed to maintaining a safe and supportive environment for students and continues to closely monitor COVID-19 and its impact on student learning and social-emotional needs. We acknowledge that this situation is difficult and appreciate your commitment to the health of your family. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

    IEP Meetings/Evaluations in Process 

    IEP meetings will be rescheduled. At some point in the future, we may resume by holding remote IEP meetings. You will be notified by your student’s Educational Team Facilitator (ETF) or Special Education Director about scheduling options. We will pause evaluation, referral, annual review, and plan distribution timelines for all students on IEPs and 504s. This means that as soon as schools reopen, the timelines will commence, as required by state and federal regulations. Additionally, at that time we will be working with families to understand the impact of the closure on individual students and will work to schedule/reschedule meetings as needed.

    Special Education Referrals/Initial Eligibility

    The Public Schools of Brookline (PSB), along with other schools in the Commonwealth, will freeze evaluation, referral, and plan distribution timelines for all students in a referral cycle. This means that as soon as schools reopen, the timelines will commence as required by state and federal regulations.

    Special Education Services

    During school closures, PSB will follow the Department of Education Guidance issued March 2020. The district encourages students to remain engaged while school is not in session and to that end schools will provide suggestions and resources for enrichment activities. These enrichment opportunities are not considered instruction. Although there is no obligation for students to engage in the enrichment activities, we do encourage participation.

    Once school reopens, PSB will resume providing special education and related services to children in accordance with the child’s IEP. If special education services cannot be provided once school reopens, teams will make individual determinations for the requirement of compensatory services.

    Home Services

    Home services and assessments will not occur during school closures. Additionally, once school reopens, our ability to send staff or contracted service providers into homes is contingent upon staff and student health and wellness in accordance with state and CDC guidelines, protocols to limit activities within the community, or availability of home service providers. If home services cannot be provided once school reopens, teams will make individual determinations for the requirement of compensatory services.

    Out-of-District Day and Residential Placements

    For students in out-of-district day or residential placements, PSB will follow the attendance recommendations of the individual out-of-district school or facility. If your student’s out-of-district school closes, PSB will not provide interim educational and/or special education services.

    Special Education Transportation

    The Transportation Office will continue to provide transportation to out-of-district schools that remain open and for students who are able to attend.

    Home Hospital Tutoring

    Once school resumes, for students who may have medical or health issues and are physically unable to come to school as a result of COVID-19, the district will follow our process with regard to Home and Hospital Tutoring. This applies to students who will miss 14 or more school days as a result of being physically unable to come to school due to a health or medical issue. A physician’s statement is required to initiate this process. If this situation applies to your child, please contact your student’s guidance counselor.

Special Education

  • Special education services throughout the district address the needs of identified learners with disabilities between the ages of three and twenty-two, who require specialized instruction to support access to the curriculum. A wide range of services are provided to meet the individual needs of students, from academic intervention to related services in areas such as: counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Availability of therapeutic services for students requiring special education intervention in the realm of social, emotional and adjustment areas is present at all schools and levels.

    Strong collaboration with regular education staff is a concerted effort to provide services to students in the most inclusive manner which benefits all students within the class setting. By providing consultation, collaboration and professional development opportunities to regular and special education staff across the district, it allows for joint efforts in the provision of special education services in the most appropriate inclusive setting.

    Staff works closely with families in assuring the services needed are identified and provided to students in accordance with applicable mandates. A strong and positive relationship exists between District staff and the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) to the benefit of the school system, students, and families.

Programs and Services

  • Special education programs and services in Brookline are designed to meet the specific needs of students with disabilities in the least restrictive setting, meaning that regular education classrooms have the appropriate aids and support, alongside non-disabled peers as determined by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. Brookline offers several programs to meet the needs of students with disabilities; related services are also provided. The professional staff that delivers special education services are certified and trained to work with a wide range of students with specific disabilities. When the nature and/or severity of the student’s disability is such that the neighborhood school programs/services would not meet the student’s needs, consideration is given to district-wide programs, and then to collaborative and out-of-district placements. 

    Through IEP team meetings, families and school staff participate in determining and making all decisions regarding special education services. Recommended programs and services are made with parent involvement, allowing students to receive services in any composite program designed individually and drawing from our comprehensive resources.

Program Objectives

    • To provide services for identified students with disabilities in compliance with state and federal mandates.

    • To support the identification of students with disabilities and to determine eligibility and the need for specially designed instruction and/or related services.

    • To provide a continuum of inclusive programs and services designed to meet the needs of students.

    • To adjust and refine the implemented system of special education service management.

    • To provide professional development opportunities and training to regular and special education staff regarding practices, compliances, and regulatory matters.


  • Inclusion is a district philosophy of Brookline Public Schools focused on educating each student to the maximum extent appropriate within the least restrictive environment while acknowledging the need for a continuum of specially designed instruction, supports, services, and placements. All students within Brookline have a right to a challenging education enabling them to make effective educational progress alongside their peers. Specially designed instruction and related services are provided within the general education setting with the use of supplementary aids and services whenever appropriate with the constant goal being that each student will demonstrate effective educational progress. The philosophy of inclusion is supported within the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 that requires students with disabilities to be educated in the “least restrictive environment” appropriate to meet their “unique needs” while identifying the need for a continuum of placement options.

    Within the Public Schools of Brookline successful inclusion depends on each educator’s responsiveness to individual student needs within flexible learning environments. The need for flexibility within instructional presentations, curriculum materials and demonstrations of student achievement is recognized. Practices and procedures support high expectations for individual achievement and acknowledge that best practice for students with disabilities benefits all students. A continuum of services is available in each school and throughout the district where general education teachers and special educators share responsibility for all students.

Important Documents

District Contacts

Resources on Inclusion

Important Links