- Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 00:00
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Corrective action plan required by Feb. 3
King George school superintendent Candace Brown last week received a report requiring immediate attention from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) for eight areas where the division is out of compliance with federal regulations regarding provision of special education services to eligible students with disabilities.
The Dec. 29, 2010, letter is noted as having been received in the division on Jan. 6, 2011.
The letter was addressed to Brown, but the School Board is responsible for seeing that its policies are carried out and regulations and school laws are properly explained, enforced and observed.
Brown was directed by VDOE to develop and supply a corrective action plan to address noncompliance issues, some termed “systemic,” by Feb. 3.
The corrective action plan is to include provision of staff development activities by April 1, 2011, to address the requirements.
The division’s progress will continue to be monitored to ensure all corrections are made within a year from the date of the letter.
The findings by VDOE’s Office of Federal Program Monitoring was a result of a site visit conducted last fall, Sept. 21-24, 2010, after several red flags had gone up over the past year and in previous years.
VDOE conducts site visit monitoring of all school divisions across the state on a five-year schedule. VDOE’s published schedule indicated that the King George division was slated for its federal audit later this year.
The visit was moved up because the division was deemed in need of improvement for its continuation of noncompliance with annual performance indicators for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) required under No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001.
Those results were released by VDOE last year, with special education performance reports released in June and the remaining performance benchmarks released in August.
King George failed to achieve AYP for the division and for four of its five schools. Both the middle school and high school failed to achieve accountability standards for students with disabilities.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR FEDERAL FUNDING
The purpose of the federal program monitoring 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.
The federal funds are earmarked for programs to achieve the intent of Congress, as noted in the letter, 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.”
EVALUATION /ELIGIBILITY 65-DAY TIMELINE
The report notes that regulations require the division to complete evaluations within 65 days for all children with parental consent to be evaluated for special education services.
The report includes a chart indicating that King George has been continuously out of compliance with that requirement for evaluation in each of the last four years.
The report notes further that “few findings of noncompliance were found at the middle school and the elementary schools. However, noncompliance was found to be systemic at the high school.”
It was specifically noted that no progress reports were found in special education student records at the high school.
The report faults the high school staff for not providing interim reports to parents of special education students at the same time they are provided all other students, which is School Board policy.
It was also noted that “transition requirements are not fully understood and followed at the middle and high school.”
‘Transition’ refers to the preparation for special education students to be ready for daily life when their public school education comes to an end.
The report includes a chart indicating that King George has been continuously out of compliance with requirements for secondary transition in each of the last four years.
The findings are cited below. The complete eight-page report and cover letter are posted on our website, journalpress.com.
Finding #1: EVALUATION & REEVALUATION - Multiple record reviews revealed that reevaluations of children were not conducted within the required three-year timeline.
Finding #2: INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM; ACCOUNTABILITY - Multiple record reviews revealed that IEP reviews were not conducted within the required annual timeline.
Finding #3: INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM; CONTENT OF THE IEP - Multiple record reviews revealed that test scores were not explained. A statement of the child’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance is to be written in objective measurable terms and test scores shall be self-explanatory or an explanation shall be included.
Finding #4: INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM; CONTENT OF THE IEP - Multiple record reviews revealed that evidence of progress reports was not found in student records. “No progress reports were found in student records at the high school or in files of students placed out-of-district. Discussions with staff revealed that progress reports on students’ IEP goals were not being provided when interim report cards are provided to children without disabilities.”
Finding #5: INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM; CONTENT OF THE IEP - Multiple record reviews and discussions with the staff revealed that secondary transition requirements are not fully understood and followed at the middle and high school.
Finding #6: CHILDREN WHO TRANSFER - Multiple record reviews and discussions with the staff revealed that the requirements regarding children who transfer are not understood and not followed.
Finding #7: DISCIPLINE PROCEDURES – There is no evidence of implementation of discipline procedures according to regulations. It was apparent from the review of disciplinary records and multiple interviews with administrators that there was little understanding of the regulatory procedures for handling discipline.
Finding #8: SPECIAL EDUCATION CASELOAD STAFFING REQUIREMENTS – Review of staff’s caseload at King George Elementary revealed the teacher of speech impairment had a caseload of 73 students, with a maximum of 68 permitted under regulations and by the Virginia Appropriation Act.
“Additionally, the team expressed concern about the overall number of students found eligible for speech services.”
Money would not appear to be an issue, with local funding returned to the county at the end of each fiscal year over the last decade — $686,427 was unspent last fiscal year 2009-10, which ended June 30, and $1.19 million was unspent the year before.
The School Board was provided an explanation of sorts in October as to why the division ended up with surplus funding last year by financial assistant Wilma Ward.
After hearing that, School Board members asked for a follow-up with a written explanation.
Ward’s calculation sheet indicated that some of the money was leftover in the operating budget because School Improvement grant funding was used to supplant budgeted expenditures in Instruction at Potomac Elementary School and King George Elementary School.
With the documented need for special education services not being met, it is unclear why the services were not provided when money was available last year and in previous years from federal, state and local sources.
For the current year, the School Board received an increase in its budget, getting nearly $2 million more than it had requested from the county Board of Supervisors.
In the current year’s budget, the county’s local funding comes to $14,718,089.
The required local effort (RLE) under the Standards of Quality contained in state law is $6 million less, coming to a minimum local match of $8,731,949, as noted on the School Board website.