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By Joe Wallek
Trustee at Tehachapi Unified School District 

Open Letter to Special Ed Parents

 

This article is a follow-up to my 7/22/17 column regarding the Critical Incident Review (CIR) of the TUSD by the California Department of Education (CDE), Special Education Division. This was an onsite review from October 24-28, 2016. This review was the result of a number of SPED parents concerns to the CDE regarding their complaints with the TUSD.

Subsequent to this investigation the administration received from the CDE the 2016-17 Critical Incident Review Follow-up # 1 Results, dated November 9, 2017 and a notification of, Incomplete Corrective Actions for the 2016-17 Critical Incident Review, dated November 21, 2017.

In the spirit of transparency, most people, especially our SPED parents, would have an expectation that CDE reports regarding an important investigation of the Special Education practices by the TUSD, would be forwarded by the administration to the governing Board upon receipt. Instead, after having these reports for weeks, they were only provided to the Board after my formal request.

The administration placed on the 12/19/17 agenda an UPDATE for the Board regarding the CRITICAL INCIDENT REVIEW (CIR). A copy of this Update was not presented in advance to the Board for review but submitted during its presentation. In addition, information requested by Trustee Markam was not included.

The document dated November 21, 2017, Incomplete Corrective Actions for the 2016-17 Critical Incident Review from the CDE, was a notification that the TUSD failed to meet the 11/13/17 deadline for 67, "student-level corrective actions."

The District was given an extension where corrective "actions must be submitted by December 12, 2017."

The document dated November 9, 2017, 2016-17 Critical Incident Review Follow-up #1 Results:

"The California Department of Education (CDE) staff conducted an on-site Follow-up Review of the district-level corrective actions for the Tehachapi Unified School District's (District) 2016-17 Critical Incident Review (CIR) on October 30, 2017 through November 1, 2017, to ensure District practices are 100 percent compliant."

"District level corrective actions include a requirement for staff training. The CDE will review additional student files to ensure that District training results in compliance for IEPs (Individualized Educational Plan) that are developed AFTER the training events are completed".

TRAININGS COMPLETED

September 6, 2017

Presented by KERN COUNTY CONSORTIUM

SELPA

Intended Audience

Administration

Special Education Staff

3 hours

September 13, 2017

Presented by KERN COUNTY CONSORTIUM

SELPA

Intended Audience

General Education Teachers

Special Education Staff

All Administrators

3 hours

September 26, 2017

Presented by TUSD Special Education Department

Dennis Ferrell, Director of Programs

School Psychologists

Intended Audience

Administration

Special Education Staff

3 hours

The CDE pulled 20 files for review that had completed the required IEP development AFTER the 3 trainings to ensure District practices are 100% compliant.

The CDE found that "Additional student-level findings of non-compliance were identified and corrective actions must be completed" in 19 of the 20 files ( 95% failure rate) and "submitted to the CDE on or before January 10, 2018."

I asked the Director of Programs, during the 12/19/17 Board meeting, how many non-compliance findings in the 19 IEPs had been identified. Incredulously, after having the CDE information for four weeks ( November 17, 2017) identifying each of the non-compliance findings and the corrections required, the Director of Programs, would, inexplicably, not give me that number.

Trustee Markam had requested the redacted information regarding these 19 files from the Superintendent prior to the 12/19/17 Board meeting. Redaction simply requires the blacking out of a student's name. These documents were not provided. Instead, his request was placed on the 12/19/17 agenda for discussion.

During that discussion, the Board president and the Superintendent pre-determined that the estimated cost of $500-$1000 for the redaction of student names on 19 files would not justify any benefit that the Board might derive from them. The Board was convinced. The files would not be redacted and provided to Trustee Markam. I dissented twice, simply stating, "Trust but verify."

Trustee Markam was not satisfied with the denial for his requested information. He contacted the CDE for copies of this public information. The CDE provided Trustee Markam redacted copies of these public documents for 15 cents a copy. A total of $8.10. The 5 minute process of blacking out 19 names on these documents could have simply be done in house, providing Trustee Markam the information he requested.

It is an absolute outrage that Trustee Markam or any Board member would have to seek information regarding District business from any outside source when the information is readily available.

Upon receipt from the CDE of the 54 redacted pages of non-compliance findings, it became glaringly apparent the reluctance in providing these non-compliance findings from the 19 files to Trustee Markam or any Board member.

WITH A CDE STANDARD OF 100% COMPLIANCE ON ALL IEPS, A FOLLOW-UP REVIEW OF DISTRICT LEVEL CORRECTIVE ACTIONS OF 20 IEP'S WAS CONDUCTED. ONLY IEP'S THAT WERE DEVELOPED AFTER 9 HOURS OF DISTRICT-LEVEL TRAINING WERE REVIEWED. THE CDE IDENTIFIED THAT 19 OF 20 FILES REVIEWED FAILED TO MEET THIS STANDARD. THE FOLLOW-UP REVIEW IDENTIFIED A DISASTROUS 172 NON COMPLIANCE FINDINGS IN 19 OF THE 20 IEPS. THERE WAS ACTUALLY A STATISTICAL INCREASE OF NON-COMPLIANCE FINDINGS AFTER THE TRAINING.

A COMPLETE FIASCO.......

There was one very concerning recurrent non-compliance finding in EACH of the 19 of 20 IEPs reviewed by the CDE.

DESCRIPTION

In selecting the LRE, is consideration given to any POTENTIAL HARMFUL EFFECT of the placement on the child or on the quality of services that he or she needs?

NON COMPLIANT FINDINGS (19 of 20 IEPs)

The IEP dated xx/xx/xx documents by check box that the IEP team considered potential harmful effect for placement; It DOES NOT DOCUMENT THE SPECIFIC POTENTIAL HARMFUL EFFECT.

Corrective Action (19 of 20 IEPs)

The District must provide evidence that an IEP was completed and shows placement decisions were made ONLY AFTER CONSIDERING THE POTENTIAL HARMFUL EFFECTS ON THE STUDENT, AND NEEDED MODIFICATIONS IN THE GENERAL EDUCATION PROGRAM.

Lack of compliance in IEPs can adversely effect TUSD SPED students and their families.

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

In the three years I have been a Trustee, I have found TRANSPARENCY to be selective at best and ACCOUNTABILITY to be non-existent.

Joe Wallek, Trustee

Retired Special Education Teacher

Tehachapi Unified School District

Endorsed by:

Dean Markham,Trustee

Tehachapi Unified School District

All opinions are my own.

To read the previous article mentioned above, click here: http://www.theloopnewspaper.com/story/2017/07/22/local-news/concerns-from-a-school-board-member/3722.html

 
 

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