We want the DESE to enforce Special Education Laws
March 31, 2013
Experienced parents and special education advocates know that school districts often do not comply with regulations or best practices for learning disabled children.
We hope that oversight by appropriate state agencies will protect learning disabled children when school districts fail, and we hope that the same state agencies would work toward improving all districts’ compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Unfortunately, our hopes are not always realized.
A case in point comes from Hudson, MA. The experienced parents from the Hudson Special Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC) asked Program Quality Assurance (PQA) to investigate Hudson Public Schools inappropriately using the term “SPED staff” on IEP service delivery grids (link to Hudson Complaint and letter with attempts to correct the problem ). PQA found Hudson out of compliance (link to PQA findings).
When Hudson PAC parents asked PQA to have Hudson correct all affected students’ IEPs, PQA refused, citing an “undue burden” on Hudson (link to PQA response).
We then asked the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to educate districts by issuing an advisory on the matter (link to PDF of letter to Mittnacht). Unfortunately, DESE did not respond.
Parents are essential in developing appropriate special education programs for their children. Compliance with laws and best practices will help to ensure the civil rights of learning disabled children and to habilitate them.
Sign our petition and Join the experienced parents of Hudson SPED PAC (www.hudsonsepac.com) and SPEDWatch (www.SPEDWatch.org) in asking the DESE to enforce SPED laws and to improve all districts’ compliance with SPED Laws.
When parents file complaints with the DESE’s Program Quality Assurance department because their children’s RIGHTS are being violated, parents have an expectation that this process will be addressed appropriately based on the laws that are being violated.
One does not expect the PQA department to not hold districts accountable for their actions. This seems to be a common practice with the department.
Recently a complaint was filed on behalf of special needs students in Hudson, Massachusetts and the PQA department found Hudson out of compliance. Instead of addressing the issue so that our children do not fail, the DESE Problem Resolution System Specialist chose to allow the district to continue with its process and only address any new cases.
See letter sent to myself by PQA below and note the last paragraph:
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, Massachusetts 02148-4906 Telephone: (781) 338-3700 TTY: N.E.T. Relay 1-800-439-2370
October 18, 2012
68 Priest Street
Hudson Ma, 01749
I am writing in response to your October 16, 2012 email regarding the Department's Letter of Closure for case #13-0029. In this matter, we required Hudson Public Schools to cease using "SPED Staff’ going forward in the development of individual Education Programs ("IEPs"). We determined that the remedy could be accomplished as IEP Teams convene for annual review or re-evaluation IEP Team Meetings. The District may also have instances in which parents may request amendments to the IEP or parents may individually request to re-convene IEP Team Meetings. Our precise corrective action in this matter was:
The District must send a memo to its IEP Team Chairpersons responsible for the development of the IEP stating that the use of term "SPED Staff" on the IEP service delivery grid is not acceptable, and that each IEP should identify the type of service providers, e.g., special education teacher, paraprofessional, Occupational Therapist, etc.
It would create an undue administrative burden on the school staff of Hudson Public Schools to ask Hudson Public Schools to immediately amend hundreds of iEPs or convene hundreds of iEP Team Meetings. The corrective action we ordered is reasonable in consideration of the nature and scope of the issue.
Joel Krakow, PRS Specialist
cc: Dean Paolillo, PRS Supervisor
Kevin Lyons, Superintendent, Hudson Public Schools
Julianna Bahosh, Director of Pupil Services, Hudson Public Schools
It would create an undue administrative burden on the school staff of Hudson public Schools to ask Hudson Public Schools to immediately amend hundreds of IEPs or convene hundreds of IEP Team Meetings. The corrective action we ordered is reasonable in consideration of the nature and scope of the issue.
The above statement shows no accountability by the department. Our children continue to be left behind.
We must place an END to this practice. This causes a LOSS in education for our children!
We want the DESE to enforce Special Education Laws.
Our children are waiting!