Discussing the impact of distance learning on the special education population

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – As San Diego Unified and Los Angeles Unified School Districts announce that they will be holding classes online for the upcoming school year, opponents of the decision want their voices to be heard. Dr. Sara Frampton works with students who have disabilities, and she believes online classes will only be detrimental to them.

She is concerned that students with disabilities will not receive the education they are entitled to under FAPE (Free & Appropriate Public Education).

Dr. Sara Frampton has worked as both a special education teacher and school psychologist in local San Diego area schools over the last several decades, having moved here in 1976. In the 1980s she became the president of the school psychologist’s Association known as the SandCasp. Then she obtained her second master’s degree in Educational Counseling and her PhD in psychology here in San Diego from local colleges.

Her private practice, Advocacy Associates Inc., was founded in 1983 and since that time she has been incredibly involved in local educational issues and worked in nearly every district in the county.

Dr. Frampton explained that students with special needs typically have more difficulty with learning in schools than the average student, which is why they require an IEP or 504 plan to provide educational support in the first place. Limitations and challenges often include attention and cognitive difficulties which preclude meaningful engagement in virtual learning (online instruction).

Particularly for the more severely involved students, those with cognitive delays, behavioral challenges, language processing difficulties, and or complex sensory challenges, virtual instruction cannot be meaningfully implemented. Many parents understand this and have been very frustrated because they are unable to provide an educational program for their children with significant delays. Additionally, they do not have specialized professional training.

Furthermore, Dr. Frampton is worried schools may not be able to address the needs of all these students, but acknowledged they are trying.

She said there has been a significant amount of behavioral therapy guidance, speech therapy is often offered individually to these children as is Occupational Therapy when it is on the IEP. Frampton says the parents of these students understand the difficulties and their children’s inability to engage with online education, even on a 1:1 basis.

Dr. Frampton spoke in detail about FAPE and why she is advocating for in-person classes to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities to make sure they get the educational instruction they must receive with KUSI’s Lauren Phinney on Good Morning San Diego.


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