Since March, due to Covid, the needs of young people with special needs have been neglected by the Department of Education, as they are unable to study or receive therapies and services that are necessary to continue their education. It is widely recognized that remote education is not adequate for this exceptional population. The project seeks to defend the rights of this under-served population by ensuring they receive some form of face-to-face education and other essential services.
Jose Ramon, a teenager in Puerto Rico's Special Education program was diagnosed at an early age with mild intellectual disability. He has language difficulties but can read and write. He should be finishing his classes to graduate from high school this May. However, since last March, due to Covid, his social-educational needs have been disruptively neglected. Not being able to study in person or receive the services he requires puts him at risk of serious social and educational regression.
The rights of Special Education students will be defended by Puerto Rico Legal Services in the courts and other forums, to ensure children access to the expert care they need, for testing and evaluation, and the provision of necessary and appropriate face-to-face services. The hiring of experts is essential in these cases, and the cost can range from $3,000 to $5,000 per student. PRLS will launch a Special Student Defense Fund dedicated to solve the problems facing this exceptional population.
The Special Fund will start with a minimum of $10,000, enough to advance two new cases in early 2021. We hope that in the long term it will become a permanent fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This would allow us to address the magnitude of the problem posed by the claims of the rights of thousands of children and special youth. In the long run, it will ensure that there is enough money to address their expert needs and support services essential to defend their well-being and progress.
This project has provided additional documentation in a DOCX file (projdoc.docx).