Link To Guest Website: Cohen Cleary PC

Title: “The Most Pressing Issues For Students During COVID”
Guest: Peter Farrell – Cohen Cleary
Interviewers: Marc Zwetchkenbaum of Marc Z Legal Staffing & Mark Furman – Tarlow Breed Hart & Rodgers

Click here to read the transcript

Nathan (0s):
Welcome back Radio Entrepreneurs, listeners, and fans. I’m producer Nathan Gobes, excited to be filling in for Jeffrey Davis. I’m excited because we’ve got two Mark’s with us today. Marc Z of Marc Z legal staffing and Mark Furman of Tarlow Breed. Hardened Rogers. Welcome gentlemen.

Marc (17s):
Thank you, Nathan. Great to be here in. Great to be co-hosting with Mark Furman.

Mark (22s):
I see everybody and really looking forward to hearing from our next guest to does incredibly important work.

Nathan (33s):
Yeah, me as well. And that guest is a Peter Farrell partner at Cohen Cleary. Welcome Peter.

Peter (40s):
Good morning guys. Thanks for having me on and good to see all of you and although in zoom land, it’s great to be together again. Thanks for having me.

Mark (49s):
Nice to see you, Pete

Marc (51s):
Nice to have you on the show. Pete

Nathan (54s):

Marc (55s):
Perfect. So Pete, you have really developed a very special niche in the education field and your practice has really grown in it and you have a talent as a seasoned litigator on the backend. If some of these issues go further, but one of the, one of the big things that we’ve had a chance to read and hear over the last 20 months is the whole in school, out of school and presence, virtual remote in-person education and how it affects, I mean, disabled students, students with learning disabilities and also balancing how things will proceed post COVID.

Marc (1m 45s):
So can you share with us some of the issues you’ve dealt you’re dealing with and have dealt with?

Peter (1m 50s):
Right. Well, thanks again, mark. That’s a great question. A lot of tongue pack there. So focusing right in, you know, when you have a student who’s on an individualized education plan or an IEP, or they have a plan in place that has services that are, you know, they have, let’s say speak up speech and language services, you know, three times a week for half an hour. How does that happen in a, in a virtual or remote environment? Your guests is as good as mine. You know, my, my colleagues who were educators really did the best that they could under really unprecedented circumstances. But in reality, when we have students with disabilities and, you know, sticking with the example of, you know, a speech and language issue or diagnosis, something like a proxy or something like that, that’s really, really difficult to deal when you’re in a remote environment.

Peter (2m 40s):
And so trying to figure out, you know, when we talk about remedies for when things go sideways with an IEP, you know, we have this new thing or had this new thing, I should say, COVID compensatory services versus regular, you know, it’s like light versus not light COVID that’s a Tory services was kind of a, a, a function of the situation, which was trying to catch kids up and make up for the lost time. I think overall, the biggest issues right now are reintegrating children, but social, emotional needs, which are, you know, again, really at the top of the list, kids really had students had a difficult time, you know, there were so, you know, so much disconnect and loss of chance, you know, opportunity for, for those, you know, let’s say, you know, in the third grade at this Smith elementary school and, you know, mean main street USA, you know, there’s the lunch bunch, well, guess what, the lunch bunch didn’t meet for the last X number of months.

Peter (3m 44s):
And so the benefit and, and, you know, the intervention from these talented educators and interventions for these young people just didn’t happen. So, you know, across the land, you’ve got moms and dads and people of all walks of life, who not surprisingly fellows. I did not miss my calling as a teacher. And, and I, my hats off to these teachers that in the last, you know, 20 or so months have really pulled a rabbit out of the hat. There’s a lot a Marc, I know we’re on limited time, but I could go on all day about that. The teachers really had to be on all the time, you know, asked to do a lot in a, in a, in frankly, an environment in which there wasn’t a whole lot of benchmarks training.

Peter (4m 27s):
And they really just did once the department of elementary and secondary education came out with some guidelines at how to picked up the ball and got us to the goal line. So that’s, that’s things certainly are improving. We’ve got a long way to go.

Mark (4m 42s):
Very challenging environment. I have a, my daughter is a teacher and, you know, during some period of time choose teaching twice the number of classes because half the kids were coming in in person and half for mode. So, and the teaching techniques are totally different if you’re, if you’re teaching, using zoom versus in person. So,

Peter (5m 11s):
And, and young young people mark to that point, you know what we’re talking in a pre high school, they’re there, their brains are not developed to, to really immerse themselves in that environment. You know, any kid, a student in high school or college, you know, remote learning is the really deliver the future online courses. If you’re taking an MBA course wherever, and to access really good programs, but young people who, who need the building blocks of really their formal education, this was a real, real damaging below to that process. So, you know, teachers and students alike really struggled for quite some time. Pete, how did you work with some of the families to sort of cut through the

Marc (5m 57s):
Regulations that would not necessarily be health-related, but we’re affecting the students’ mental health, because I’m sure there, besides the physical aspects of being concerned about obviously contracting COVID and dealing with those issues, there were a lot of mental health issues by not having horses by having to just have zoom by not having a certain schedule. What were some of the ways you you’ve dealt with situations?

Peter (6m 33s):
It’s a great question again, mark. I mean, it’s, you’ve done your homework. This is a pretty, the biggest challenge. And how I guess that I had to deal with is that reconciling this, you know, remote environment with the fact that in Massachusetts and elsewhere there’s compulsory school attendance loss. And what we had was these young people that they went dark, they wouldn’t show up on zoom or they’d be absent, or her mom and dad would be working in track. You know, they’re literally holding their world together, both hands in their forehead, because they’ve got to try to work. They’ve got kids at home, they’ve got kids on zoom, they’ve got three kids, one in each room on different courses, different it’s like bandwidth issues, technology issues.

Peter (7m 14s):
I mean, we’re talking about a full slate of problems and issues. And I think trying to the biggest thing I would say is school adjustment counselors, really, I did, did the yeoman’s work in terms of how things went because you can reach out and at least communicate. And I think moves to everybody, you know, us as professionals that included race, the technology of zoom or video conferencing or whatever. So while it wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t that in-person, you know, interpersonal connection that people create, certainly young students with their teachers. It was at least something that got us through, but really the concern lied with, with students that had severe, you know, needs and intervention that was required.

Peter (8m 4s):
And those students, for the most part, you know, I think the department of elementary and secondary ed really stepped up and said, those kids with the most significant needs, we’re going to bring them in and we’re going to administer to them. In-person. And, you know, while there there’s risks involved, obviously with the virus, you know, the risk versus the risk of, of regression and losing all of these wonderful gains that we’ve made with these children and students, you know, it really, that was probably the best way to address those things, but it’s not the students that are so high needs. It’s the students that fall in kind of the middle that are identified as having some needs. For example, with students on a 5 0 4 plan, which is, you know, 5 0 4, section 5 0 4 of the rehab act of 1973, less regulated, but not any less important in that these are kids that have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, reading, writing, learning, you know, all of those things and really outreach to those students is critical.

Peter (9m 10s):
And I think overall, we did a good job of capturing and gathering data on who those students were identifying, who those students burn. No, I got a lot of calls from moms and dads and, and what do I do now? My, my child doesn’t want to log on and getting inquiries from school. Like, where are they? Are they alive? Are they sick? Are they in the hospital? And that coupled with outside of the school, which is a lot of the work that I do in the mental health area is having the right clinician. And of course there were outpatient clinicians. And of course there’s a massive shortage in getting an appointment and tele-health and all of that stuff, which of course no industry, not, not the least of which was the medical field was prepared for.

Peter (9m 55s):
So I, and the courts certainly, you know, same thing. We were close for a long time. So we did, we did. Okay. But those were some of the issues

Marc (10m 3s):
What’s going to happen though. There’s some students that just, they need a lot more attention that they did not get from zoom or the limited teaching experience. And is it there a fear that they’re going to be kept back? And that could be very taxing on the school system, because as you say, the high you’re able to compliment, but the low it’s just, there are serious issues aren’t there.

Peter (10m 30s):
Right? I think so, even in non, we call him the COVID times. Some people refer to it, even the goal is to always advance or promote that student to the next grade. And you bolster their experience, you know, educationally with support and interventions. So it’s not so much a matter of being kept back. I think we’re teachers, you know, like Mark’s daughter and others, you would tell, you know, we’re going to meet these students where we find them because, you know, while we’ve got students that are all over, you know, there’s no, you know, there’s no it’s connecting the dots of where these students are on the map.

Peter (11m 10s):
And that’s going to take a little time to shake out. I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you in my wildest imaginations, mark, you know, how long that’s going to take, but that’s, I think the attitude and the ambition of our system and, and the commitment of our teachers to say, you know, to our students, you know, what do you need, what can we do to help you? And, and then on top of that, when you have special education services under an IEP, you have that added layer of re-evaluations, you know, seeing where these students were at in terms of their current level of educational performance and the goals and benchmarks and where they are with their IEP. That’s the purpose of the annual review with the IEP team and the three-year re-evaluation to see if they’re making effective progress.

Marc (11m 58s):
Excellent. Did you have a lot of remote hearings during COVID to discuss some of these issues with the schools and in your advocate advocating for the students?

Peter (12m 9s):
Yeah. So once, once the students got kind of going and education kind of returned after a brief hiatus, you know, some districts did it better than others. We wrapped our brains around how to best proceed with, you know, team meetings and things in a remote environment. So I did a fair amount by zoom. I still do. I think even as we’re starting to come out of COVID, we’re still embracing the zoom technology because it, frankly, I think it’s here to stay and it’s given me and allows parents to zoom in from work and it’s good communication. So I think zoom is here to stay in a lot of areas, and this is one of them as well. And I think that the education, you know, teachers and educators and administrators, they all did pretty well adapting to that.

Peter (12m 53s):

Nathan (12m 53s):
Excellent. Thank you.

Mark (12m 56s):
It’s hard to imagine what this would have been like without having access to zoom, you know?

Peter (13m 3s):
Yeah. The technology, I mean, it’s been pretty amazing and now it’s like using one of these, right. It’s people have just kind of read into it and they learned it because out of necessity and it’s been, it’s been good. It’s been good because it’s given us what we need to, you know, make it happen.

Nathan (13m 23s):
Peter, thank you for joining us this morning.

Peter (13m 28s):
It’s been a great conversation. Thank you.

Nathan (13m 30s):
Of course, of course, that was Peter Cohen par partner at, excuse me, Peter Farrell partner at Cohen, Cleary. Peter, if people want to reach you, what’s the best way to do so. Sure.

Peter (13m 42s):
We have offices in Taunton, Quincy, and Plymouth. The best way you can reach out to me by email, you can get us through our website, Cohen Cleary dot com. We’re at 5 0 8 8, 7. I’m going to get the phone number wrong. So I’d never use it. 5, 8, 7, 7, hold on a second. Forget the phone number. <em></em> dot com. It’s easiest way to get me is that way or send me an email and I will certainly respond. I probably get a ton of Dean emails native every day, and that’s the best way to reach me because I’m not always at my desk because now the courts are opening again, I’m around. And of course I’m in and out, but happy to talk. This is, this is a really important issue.

Peter (14m 24s):
You know, you guys are doing important work and getting people connected with legal services as well. So I’d like to also personally, thank my friend, mark and mark for having me on again. It’s really great to see both of you again and you Nathan as well. Happy Thanksgiving guys. And thanks for having me on.

Mark (14m 42s):
Thank you.

Nathan (14m 44s):
And of course, a Marc Z, if people want to reach you at Marc Z legal staffing, what’s the best way for them to reach you. So, first of

Marc (14m 52s):
All, Google Marc Z MIRC and the letter Z or Marc Z legal MIRC, Z or 6 1 7 3 3 8 1 300.

Nathan (15m 2s):
Great. Thank you. And Mark Furman, Tarlow Breed, Hart and Rogers.

Mark (15m 6s):
I can be reached at 6 1 7 2 1 8 2 0 2 5. That’s my direct line or M Ferman, F U R M a

Peter (15m 22s):
Great. By the way, guys, I almost gave you the fax number. So my staff would have been really annoyed and that’s why I hesitated at time. I have a weight 5 0 8 8 8 0 6 6 7 7 is my team at Cohen Cleary. Great to see you guys. And now I’ll get the phone number right next time. I’m nursing, but good to see you guys. Thanks.

Nathan (15m 46s):
We’ll be back after this break.

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