Compensatory education is a remedy that acts as a form of reimbursement when a school does not provide the free, appropriate public education [FAPE] that a student was entitled to receive. The concept behind compensatory education is to put the student in the place they would have been if the school had provided FAPE. Compensatory education can be additional services and supports, or reimbursement for out of pocket costs for private educational tutoring, or other services the child required and the school wrongfully didn’t supply. Compensatory education should compensate for lost time, meaning it should provide more than what was required in an IEP.
Not every denial of FAPE qualifies for compensatory education. For example, very small violations do not warrant an award of compensatory education. Likewise, it is also not appropriate when a student’s potential has been reached. The question to ask when assessing whether compensatory educational should apply is, if FAPE had not been denied, would the student be in a better position than they are now?
Many students with disabilities did not receive an appropriate education during the school closure that started during the Spring of 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Distance learning or hybrid learning can make it difficult for schools to provide FAPE to some students, depending on the resources of the school district and the student’s level of need. Whether a student is entitled to compensatory education is evaluated on an individual bases, but is a very common remedy for when a student has been deprived of FAPE.