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King George’s special ed corrective action plan deadline is Feb. 3

King George school division Superintendent Candace Brown has two weeks to submit a corrective action plan to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to address changes to be made in eight areas where the division is out of compliance with federal regulations for provision of special education services to eligible students with disabilities.
A Dec. 29, 2010, letter from VDOE gives several deadlines, including Feb. 3 for the corrective action plan to be submitted.
But the letter also states that Brown had previously received a letter of noncompliance from VDOE dated Nov. 17.

Prior to that, VDOE’s Division of Special Education & Student Services sent four officials to the division for an on-site review during Sept. 21-24.
The letter documents that an exit meeting was held at the end of that site visit with Brown and Pat Nealon, the division’s Supervisor of Special Services.
The exit meeting included discussion of findings of noncompliance from the VDOE team’s review, reasons for noncompliance, and the timelines for corrections.
The School Board is responsible for seeing that its policies are carried out and regulations and school laws are properly explained, enforced and observed.

CORRECTIVE ACTION PLAN?
The corrective action plan must specifically address the eight findings of violations and provide remedies for fixing them and putting structures in place to make sure that they don’t happen again.
The Feb. 3 deadline for a corrective action plan to be submitted was not mentioned at last week’s School Board meeting on Jan. 10.
There was mention of it at another public meeting last week, but Nealon did not shed much light on the division’s progress toward compliance.
At a public meeting of the division’s Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) last Thursday, Jan. 13, the topic was on the agenda.
Nealon related that the state would provide some staff resources to provide inservices in the division.
Several staff development activities must take place by April 1, 2011, to address the requirements. Nealon did not mention the dates for those inservices.
SEAC member Willia Allen asked him if he already had some things in place to meet the deadline. Nealon responded, “Not yet.”
It would appear that Nealon is waiting for VDOE to provide assistance with corrective action planning, which is part of its federal program monitoring.
VDOE FEDERAL PROGRAM MONITORING
VDOE provides assistance to the division to make corrections and put procedures in place to ensure continued compliance.
VDOE provides various services to assist it in getting into compliance with state and federal regulations. Those include targeted technical assistance, professional development, integrated on-site and off-site monitoring activities and data verification.
VDOE is expected to request quarterly updates on the division’s progress toward correcting violations. The follow-up is to ensure timely corrections, not to exceed one year.

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR FEDERAL FUNDING
The purpose of federal program monitoring by VDOE is to ensure accountability for “effective and meaningful implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),” for which federal money is funneled through the state to local school divisions.
As noted in the letter to Brown, the federal funds are earmarked for programs to achieve the intent of Congress in providing “that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.”
State and federal regulations provide a year for the division to get into compliance. If documentation of compliance is not submitted or is inadequate, the division would be given notice that state and federal funds are not available for reimbursement for special education programs and services.
There are several additional due process steps along the way to provide the opportunity for the division to get into compliance.
After reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing, if it is determined that the division failed to comply, state and federal funds for the education of eligible children with disabilities would be withheld until it complies with the state and federal laws and regulations.
If it is determined that funds have been misused or erroneously claimed, VDOE would also bill the division for the amount of funds improperly received and withhold an equal amount of state or federal funds for the following year if not repaid by the local educational agency.

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Phyllis Cook
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