HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Parents and grandparents likely have a lot of questions as we head into a new school year.
Many want to know what this upcoming school year will look like and what rights their children have as they navigate uncharted territory.
WAFF 48 News got some advice from Legal Services Alabama to help answer those questions.
Laurie McFalls is the education practice group lead attorney for Legal Services Alabama in Huntsville. She’s also a parent facing the same situation when it comes to starting school in the middle of a pandemic.
“It’s going to be a very challenging time for the schools and for the students. And it’s going to require a lot of creativity and a lot of team work,” McFalls said.
Many viewers have questions when it comes to their children’s education and their legal rights.
“We generally handle special education cases. We handle access to school cases and we handle disciplinary cases,” McFalls said.
Legal Services Alabama also provides a virtual place for parents and guardians to go when they’re seeking advice or answers. This is especially helpful as schools start back even as the state continues to deal with rising COVID-19 cases.
“You are the one that’s the expert on your child, and you need to be able to advocate for your child’s needs,” said McFalls.
Legal Services Alabama is one of several organizations that make up the website Back To School Bama. The website answers questions on topics ranging from distance learning to standardized testing during a pandemic. It also provides timely information for families of students with special needs.
“I know that there are a lot of parents that have children with special needs and they are very concerned. Schools are still obligated to provide IEPs. They’re still obligated to produce resources, and they’re going to have to come up with creative solutions. They’re going to have to come up with additional resources to meet these children’s needs,” she said.
McFalls encourages parents and grandparents to keep an open line of communication with the school. Document what works and what doesn’t. Have a plan and a backup.
And remember, this is new territory for everyone.
“I encourage parents to try to have patience when dealing with the administrators that they are doing the very best they can. but at the same time remember that you are the one that’s the expert on your child,” McFalls said.
Click here for WAFF 48 News’ page filled with what you need to know as you prepare for the upcoming year. You’ll find resources from school districts across the Valley and updated information on reopening plans.