Summary of Facebook Live Q&A: Legal Questions

Feb 2, 2021 | Blog, Rights/Procedures, Video

 1/13/21 Facebook Live

Theresa Nicholls & Rachel Suppe

Please join Jen Aprea, Director of The Arc TN’s Family Engagement Project and Theresa Nicholls, Assistant Commissioner of Special Populations for the TN Department of Education for a Q & A session about Special Education in the state of Tennessee.


JEN: Hello again, and welcome to our Facebook Live Event where we will give you the latest updates on Special Education Services in Tennessee. My name is Jennifer Aprea and I work with the Arc Tennessee as the Director of Family Engagement in Special Education. Since last year we’ve been bringing on guests from throughout the Special Populations Division of the Department of Education to learn about their roles and how they serve students.

Today we are bringing back Assistant Commissioner of Special Populations, Theresa Nichols and Rachel Suppe Legal Counsel for the Department of Education, to answer some of the more general questions we’ve received over the last few weeks!

Before we get to the questions, let’s give Assistant Commissioner Nicholls a chance to update us on the latest news from the Department regarding school closures in TN.


  • Comm. Nicholls provides latest update:
    • CLP’s Continuous Learning Plans were required to be developed by every school district to ensure that every student would receive instruction. Regardless to whether students attend school in-person or receive virtual instruction. School Districts are using data to update their plans. All updates to CLP’s  are submitted to the State Department of Education.
    • IDEA  Law is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities. During this time nothing about this law has been waived. Students should be receiving all related services.
    • The State Department of Education in in the process of determining how the most recent stimulus package will be used to support education.


Jennifer Aprea:   Q & A


1.      Our daughter has been completely virtual this year. She has not received any face to face instruction and has barely been given any assignments.  She is getting her therapies virtually, her teacher has dropped off a few activities for her to do, and she has some books she can read through Unique Learning Systems, but other than that, she has gotten nothing the entire first semester of school. She is not getting an education while schools are required to be providing it, so she is not receiving FAPE. What is the best way to address this?


Raquel Suppe

Schools are still required to provide FAPE whether students are in person or virtual. It’s important for parents to complete a tracking sheet to have a record of the services that your child has received. Parents should request an IEP meeting to discuss and make changes concerning the delivery of services. Lastly parents may file a complaint if they feel like their concerns are not being addressed. Ms. Suppe mentioned that Parents may contact her office directly if they have additional questions.



2.      My child has an IEP and I feel that he’s not able to learn remotely, but his teacher said that his needs aren’t great enough for him to be included in the small group of students that goes in-person even when the rest of the school is remote. Is there anything I can do to get him permission to come on campus?

Rachel Suppe


Decisions concerning FAPE and LRE should only be made by the IEP team. Reach out to your Special Education Director and request an IEP meeting. Whether a student attends class remotely or in person should be determined by the students needs and their ability to learn remotely. During your IEP meeting discussion should be conducted to determine potential placement. If you think that your proposal is not addressed, you should receive prior written notice as why your proposal was rejected.


3.      My son has Autism, but his IEP lists his diagnosis as “Multiple Disabilities” and I’m not sure that’s the right fit. Should I call a new IEP meeting to have them change that?


Theresa Nicholls


Yes, requesting an IEP meeting would be the first step in to initiate a re-evaluation of the student’s specific needs and accurate diagnosis. The re-evaluation can be done anytime during the school year.



4.      I’ve been checking my district’s website for a plan specific to students receiving special education services should we need to transition to remote and I can’t find anything. I know the Department put up the district CLPs on their website, but are districts required to share that information as well? If I can’t find it, who should I reach out to?


Theresa Nicholls

State Board requires that each school district post their CLP’s on their website. This plan must be available at all times. Reach out to your Special Education Director or School Administrator for guidance in locating the Continuous Learning Plan.


 Closing Summary of Questions & Answers


ESY Services, or Extended School Year is an individualized instruction program for eligible students with disabilities that is beyond the regular school year. The need for ESY Services must be determined on an individual basis by the IEP Team. These services will be supplied over the summer to prevent regression and maintain skills previously taught.

Compensatory Services or other remediation should be available to students that have been denied FAPE or according to individual data suffered learning loss. The need for these services should be determined using progress reports, report cards and other forms of data. IEP teams should also consider the need of each individual student.

Students that turn 18 during their senior year should continue their transition plans whether the student is a virtual student or attending class in person. The Voc Rehab program is still in partnership with our school districts. All transition plans should be finalized by the time students reach their senior year.         


We want to thank you for joining us today and we hope you found this helpful! Remember you can sign up for our newsletters and follow us on social media to get regular updates as we get through this public health crisis together! And be sure to join us next week when we talk to Assistant Commissioner Theresa Nicholls about the latest updates from the Department of Special Populations.