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Special Education Recovery Services FAQ

This document is based on the most common questions received from members as they speak with parents and work with building administrators to arrange Special Education Recovery Services (SERS). For your convenience, we have organized the following FAQ to answer questions about how the SERS Notice is to be completed with the parameters of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), and then addresses how SERS may be implemented at the school level.

How to complete the SERS Notice

What are Special Education Recovery Services?

Special Education Recovery Services (SERS) are “specialized instruction and related services in addition to the services outlined in a student’s IEP that are available to students with IEPs to close gaps in instruction brought on by disruption in learning due to the pandemic.”

  • SERS will be delivered in small groups (six or fewer) after school or during Saturday programs with transportation provided. Groups receiving services may include students without IEPs.
  • Consistent with flexibility available for Academic Recovery services, schools can offer blended and/or remote SERS options as long as parents, and in the case of related services, supervisors, are included in the decision.
  • SERS will address inadequate progress toward grade level standards or annual goals or skills deficits.
  • SERS will continue to be available beyond the fall based on progress monitoring conducted throughout the fall and winter.
  • Students with IEPs must receive specially designed instruction from a certified special education teacher for the amount of time specified on their Individualized Recovery Plans. Where no licensed or certified special education teacher is available, general education teachers trained or willing to be trained in DOE approved interventions may be hired to deliver SERS interventions or small group content area instruction.

For the SERS notice, can a parent consent to one part of the document and not consent to another part of the document?

Yes, each service offered may be recorded as either an "Offered – Parent Agrees" or "Offered - Parent Declined” service. If the parent was not able to be contacted, the services intended to be offered should be recorded as “Offered - Parent Was Not Reached." See more about completing a SERS notice >>

Can parents opt in to recovery services at a later date?

If the parent decides to decline some or all of the offered services, this should be documented on the plan in SESIS. If the parent decides at a later time that they would like the service(s) to be provided, they should contact the school, which should determine whether they can accommodate that request during the current or an upcoming cycle.

In creating SERS, will anticipated start dates need to be changed or revised to reflect the SERS official start date?

Dates on the SERS document in SESIS are anticipated, or projected, dates. Schools will confirm actual program start and end dates directly with families when scheduling has been finalized. There is no need to revise the SERS in SESIS for this purpose.

If a student is offered SERS at least 10 hours per cycle for each IEP related service, does the student require 10 hours for EACH related service they receive? (For example, if a student is identified to need recovery services for speech and counseling, is that a total of 20 hours of related service recovery?)

For students included in the first priority group, case managers should review the progress made towards IEP goals since March 2020, identify the instructional area(s) and service(s) for which sufficient progress was not made, and recommend the minimum number of hours of recovery services for each (at least 20 hours of small group instruction and 10 hours per related service).

If, after consultation with the student’s provider(s), teacher(s), and parent, it is determined that the student made sufficient progress toward academic or related service goals, the student may be offered less than the recommended minimum hours in those areas. Unless specifically requested by the parent, students in this priority group who have made progress in certain areas should not be offered less than 10 hours of small group instruction or five hours of each related service.

If a student’s IEP recommends individual paraprofessional support during the school day, does that paraprofessional stay with the student during the recovery program and get paid per session?

With the exception of health paraprofessionals (which must be provided to students during recovery services in all cases), each IEP recommendation for a paraprofessional should be considered and discussed with families when planning for special education recovery services. Recovery services are delivered in much smaller groups than most classes during the school day. Not every student will require the same paraprofessional support that is recommended on the IEP during recovery services. If individual paraprofessional support is needed, this may or may not be the same paraprofessional who provides support during the school day, depending on whether or not they have elected to work the program.

What responsibility, if any, does the special education teacher have to confer with a Related Service Provider(s) in order to complete the SERS notice in SESIS? Is the special education teacher required to complete the SERS notice if the parent only agrees to related services as part of recovery services?

The case manager should review the table of recommended minimum hours for related services and discuss with the child’s service provider(s) to determine the individual recommendations to be offered on the SERS notice. The case manager should then contact the parent to discuss the plan, and document it on the SERS notice in SESIS. The specifics of service(s) agreed to or declined does not change the responsibility of the case manager.

If the student’s IEP recommends a related service to be provided on a 1:1 basis, can the student be offered SERS in a group for that same service?

Yes. The IEP recommendation does not determine group size or frequency of SERS, which are offered in addition to (not in place of) IEP mandated programs and/or services. The case manager, in consultation with the parent and related service provider, and based on data provided by the School Implementation Team (SIT), should determine whether a student recommended for individual service on their IEP can benefit from that same service in a group during SERS.

If a SERS document is completed during an IEP meeting, do you still get compensated for it?

If a case manager discusses student learning loss with the family or does other work related to the preparation and development of the SERS notice outside of regular work hours, they shall keep a log and be paid per session. However, SERS work done during school hours in the context of an IEP meeting cannot be paid by per session funds. For more information, read the case manager guidance document >> 

Implementation of SERS

Who is determining student placement in priority groups?

School building leaders are expected to work with their School Implementation Team (SIT) to review reports created by the Special Education Office (SEO) that categorize students into three priority groups based on SESIS data from the school and other risk factors. These preliminary reports were sent to schools via SESIS messaging in September and again in October to reflect changes to enrollment since the start of school. Adjustments to priority grouping may be necessary based on additional data that exists at the local level. The SIT should consider student report cards, assessment/screening results from the fall, teacher reports from the most recent annual review and, parent input to adjust student priority groupings as necessary. Note that these considerations should be from the entire period of remote and blended learning, beginning in March 2020. For more information, see the Academic Recovery - Special Education guidance >> 

Will priority group 2 students be grouped exclusively or can they be folded into preexisting groupings of priority 1 students? (In other words, if a teacher has two priority group 1 students, can three priority group 2 students enter that same group in December?)

Yes, as capacity allows and the school is able, students in groups 2 and 3 may be included with existing students in group 1.

If the case manager is not the teacher providing recovery services, how will they monitor the services?

The case manager is responsible for family outreach and planning of special education recovery services. Case managers may or may not be delivering services, depending on whether or not they have elected to work the program.

Is instructional lunch an option to provide academic recovery services during the school day, or will these services only be provided during after school hours?

No. Instructional lunch is not intended as a time for these services to occur. As a reminder, teachers will be paid coverage rate for instructional lunches they cover. Work done during the school day will not be compensated with per session funds.

Will there be any type of remote option for recovery services (instruction and/or RS)? 

Schools should emphasize the value of providing these services in person. However, if it is not possible for the student to attend after school or on Saturdays in person, at the parent’s request, Special Education Recovery Services may be delivered remotely by a provider working from the school building at the principal’s discretion. 

When will the commencement of SERS start? And who will be given priority?

In response to feedback, the deadline to initiate recovery services has been extended to December 6. By December 6, services should begin for the highest priority students in your school community. While it may not be possible to serve all students in the first priority group by December 6, every effort should be made to do so.

Can a teacher who has dual certification apply for the SERS posting even if they are not currently working under their Special Education license?

Yes, as long as the teacher has the appropriate NYSED SE certification, including those dually certified.

When to complete SERS and how payment will occur

When can work on Special Education Recovery Services (SERS) planning be completed?

The union encourages you to make sure you are fairly compensated for your time. You are entitled to two hours of per-session time for each child you complete a plan for. However, please know that any work completed during the regular workday cannot be paid by per session funds. If you choose to do this work during a prep, lunch or other professional work (OPW) time, you will not be able to receive the per-session rate, but you can apply to be paid for a prep or lunch. This work is to be done at your discretion, so if an administrator is telling you that you must complete this work during a certain time, you may file an operational issues complaint. Speak to your chapter leader if this is occurring.

Is per session for this program being processed centrally or at the school level?

It will be processed by school payroll secretaries. At this time, the DOE has not provided all secretaries with the training and proper payroll codes for this compensation. You should submit timesheets accordingly and keep a record for yourself of the time you have worked.