The California legislature is moving quickly to make changes to independent study for the 2021-2022 school year only. Proposed Assembly Bill 130 and Senate Bill 130, provide a pathway for students to participate in independent study for the 2021-2022 school year when in-person instruction would put the student’s health at risk, as determined by the student’s legal guardian. Local education agencies (“LEAs”) would be required to revise existing independent study policies and procedures to comply with changes in the bills if one or both become law. These revisions could impact: notification of the independent study option, written agreements, student-parent-educator conferences, attendance, access to connectivity and LEA-owned devices, synchronous instruction, live interaction, satisfactory educational progress, academic and other supports, documentation of student participation, maintenance of evidence of student engagement, and the transition processes for students who wish to return to in-person instruction. AB/SB 130 would also amend school closure requirements for unanticipated events or natural disasters to include a plan for independent study.
The proposed changes to independent study are likely to have implications for some students with individualized education programs or section 504 plans where in-person instruction for all or part of the 2021-2022 school year would put the student’s health at risk. Stay tuned as we will update you on any actions taken by California legislature and/or Governor. We will issue an additional and lengthier Alert regarding the far reaching implications of changes to distance learning and/or independent study laws for students with disabilities and other vulnerable student groups for the 2021-2022 school year should either or both bills become law.