Monday, May 25, 2015

The Big Picture - Part Two

My first piece in this series was about how the City and other outside forces seem to be lining up to takeover the district, piece by piece.

This thread is about legally mandated programs for students that have been an issue for the district for a very long time, namely, ELL, Special Education and Advanced Learning.

I'm not going to go into a dissection of each because I'm not qualified to speak fully on ELL or Sped. (And I'm not looking for another discussion on Advanced Learning.  Please do not go off-topic on this point.)

The issue is that our district has consistently either failed to provide services, provided partial service or failed to provide services in a timely manner for all of these programs at one time or another.  This has happened for many years. 

The district has been under review for both Special Education services and ELL services by OSPI over the last year. 

To be fair, I know that ELL and Special Education services are expensive and it is a challenge for every single district to provide these services.   Perhaps there needs to be a review of what can be offered and for how long in order to curb costs.  But this would likely need to come at a federal/state level and I don't know when/if that may be happening.  (Please note: I am not saying these students should not be served but, for example, you could start phasing out some ELL service after a certain number of years depending on starting age of the student.)

There is also the issue of lack of substitutes (this has been in the news over this school year) and lack of certification by Gen Ed teachers for Special Education.  I know this is on the wishlist for the district but I have no idea when/how they can make this happen.  And again, even if GenEd teachers do have certification, large class sizes will still make this a challenge.

I do not believe there is bad intent in any of this.  But it seems that when push comes to shove, the district leadership tends to believe that IEPs and Special Ed services are, by and large, provided.

I can say this as a parent of a former K-12 student - there is no panic like the panic you feel when you worry about the ability of your child to learn.  As a former K-12 Special Ed parent,I know there is the panic when you know your child is capable of learning but needs help/structure to get there and you don't see those supports in place.  And, as we ALL know, a school year is a lifetime for children and even losing a couple of months can have lasting effects.

Case Study
The case study here is Stevens Elementary where some Special Education parents have done a very good job detailing how Special Education services at Stevens have failed over this school year.  They filed a Special Education Citizen Complaint (SECC) No. 15-10 with OSPI.


Editor's note: apparently parents at BF Day read this OSPI Corrective Action Report and have asked the district to compensate their students this way.  The district has agreed to do this.  I'm putting the outcomes of this complaint at the beginning of this thread, rather than at the end, to show a couple of things.  One, that the district could be accused of trying to push the envelope in NOT providing services.  What if none of these parents had the wherewithal to complain?  No district service make-up provided.  Two, the district struggles with staffing and it would be nice to have a clear explanation of why that is.  As well, when staffing needs are not met, the schools then have to struggle to make a patchwork of staff to fill in.  That's not good for either staff or students.  There was this as well from the Stevens parent who wrote to me:
It is not uncommon for the police to show up or for some poor child to have a complete volatile and loud meltdown in the hallway.  There have been many days that I have walked into the school and I can hear a kid screaming in the hallways.  If I can hear it, so can all the neighboring class rooms.  I also know that there have been children who have witnessed violent behaviors due to the lack of adequate support.
Outcomes
OSPI accepts the District's proposed correction of providing all students in the Access and EBD programs with compensatory services over the summer of 2015. The District will provide students with 64 hours of services to be delivered over a four week period, not to exceed four hours per day.
The summer program must also be staffed at the same ratio the District staffs the Access and the EBD programs during the school year. The District will also provide transportation for students to the summer program consistent with the provision of transportation to the students during the school year.  
In the Complainant's reply, the Complainant requested that parents be allowed to use the compensatory services offered by the District to enroll their students in community based programs designed to help students improve social/behavioral skills or academic skills over the summer of 2015. OSPI also accepts this proposed corrective action. If parents of students in the Access and EBD programs elect to enroll their students in community based programs or tutoring programs designed to improve social/behavior skills or academic skills, instead of participating in summer program, parents may submit invoices to the school District to be reimbursed for services in an amount up to $4,800 (64 hours x $75 per hour). These services must occur between June 22,2015 and August21,2015. The District must also reimburse the parents for the cost of providing transportation for these services at the District's privately owned vehicle rate. 
Start of Case Study


The complaint states that these parents believe that:
the District violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or a regulation implementing the IDEA, with regard to the education of students who attend the Access program or were assigned to a program for students with emotional/behavioral disabilities (EBD) at the elementary school.
It details - via a timeline - of what did (and did not) happen over the course of the school year.

The Overview explains the issue (partial):
During the 2014-2015 school year, the District elementary school operated an "Access" program for students eligible for special education under the category of Autism. Additionally, the elementary school operated a primary and intermediate program for students eligible for special education under the category of emotional behavioral disability (EBD).
It goes on to explain that the primary EBD teacher was hurt in a car crash at the beginning of the school year and had to be gone for several weeks.  The Access teacher also had issues and left for good in October.  (It appears both teachers had somewhat fluid schedules due to their issues.) There were then multiple substitute teachers, when available.
The Complainant alleged that the District failed to provide instructional aide support for students in the Access program and EBD program during the 2014-2015 school year that were consistent with the students' lEPs. The Complainant also alleged that the District failed to provide specially designed instruction for students in the Access program and EBD program consistent with their lEPs during the 2014-2015 school year. The District admitted that it did not consistently provide instructional aide support for students in the Access program and EBD program, due to staffing shortages. The District also admitted that due to the staffing shortages, students in the Access program and EBD program were not consistently provided with specially designed instruction as stated in their lEPs. To address these failures, the District proposed providing compensatory services for the affected students during the summer of 2015' The District also proposed conducting a review of the affected students' IEPs to address any issues with the actual delivery of services.
 Finding of Fact (partial):
During the 201 4-2015 school year, a District elementary school operated two special education programs: an "Access" program for students who were eligible for special education under the category of Autism; and a program for students who were eligible for special education under the category of emotional behavioral disability (EBD.
According to the District's documentation, at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, there were 10 students in the elementary school's Access program.Students in the Access program are taught by a special education teacher (Access teacher) with assistance from three instructional assistants (lAs). The Access program model is designed so that participating students spend at least part of their school day in a general education classroom with their same grade peers.
So each student, depending on the IEP, would receive different services in these programs.  It is noted that if some students have progress on behavior issues, they would need fewer services and spend more time in the Gen Ed classroom.

I'll pause here to state that it is not the district's fault the teacher was hurt in an accident.  But when you see this kind of finding:
The principal also stated that there had been a substitute 1:1 lA for Student 3 the day before, but that substitute had now taken a long term position at another school. The principal stated that because the school was "working toward fading out" the 1:1 lA based on Student 3's needs, the school had decided not to replace the previous 1:1 lA, because the new 1:1 lA would be out of a job in December 2014.
This was in September and the principal knew that that that student was eligible for services and yet made a decision that the student would not get those services - for months - based on ....what? Saving money or helping the IA find a full-year job?  Because it doesn't appear it was done on what was best for the student.  And, none of this "fading out" of this student's services was updated in their IEP.

Additionally, the principal appears to have accepted the funding for this 1:1 IA, but chose not to use the funds for this position.  It is unclear why the principal did this or what the funding was used for.   Was this in the best interests of the student in question?  

But again, something happened and one of the IA got placed on administrative leave in late September to November 10th.  This IA was in support of one student. They brought in a sub who was only there for 24 of 34 school days and they would have the assistant principal come in to support students.  Naturally, this flow of different IAs/adults makes it hard to make connections with students.  So what happened?
However, [Student 3] has received 0% support for most of the 14-15 school due to continued issues securing a substitute or permanent lA." The mother was concerned that without the lA support, Student 3 was "slipping backward in his goals and may ultimately require continued one-on- one support to get back on track." Additionally, the mother expressed concern that Student 3 had been placed in the hallway without supervision due to his disruptive behavior, and was therefore unsupervised when another student became violent in the hallway.
The mother of the student asked that the District explain its plan for this student.  The student's teacher said she supported getting the help to the student and that the teacher had shared the parents' e-mail with District staff and school administrators. But the program specialist stated that he could not help the teacher and asked that the parents concerns to to District HR and elementary administrators.

There had also been a desire by staff to have a "lunch bunch" group to help students with social needs.

But,  
On October 13,2014, the Access teacher emailed the elementary school principal and the assistant principal and copied the District program specialist and the EBD program teachers. The Access teacher stated that "until staffing is consistent we cannot do [social] groups, keep kids and adults safe and keep people from burning out. If we don't have groups, we are not able to proactively address our students' needs and only react to their behaviors...This means that students will continue to miss SDI [specially designed instruction] minutes. The other option is to pull all kids who cannot be independent. This does not give students access to their least restrictive environment. Without staffing and time to plan with IA's we cannot do both."
There were then continued issues with staffing.   At least one parent consistently asks how the District will make up for these missed services.  Finally in December,
The next day, the District regional special education supervisor emailed the Complainant, stating that she believed the District staff members had been able to clarify where and how Student 1's IEP services were being delivered. The regional supervisor stated that she would be working on a calendar of compensatory services to show the number of hours that would be provided. The District would also send the Complainant a letter regarding the District's offer of compensatory services. The District later sent the letter on December 19, 2014, and the Complainant accepted the offer of compensatory services.
I'll also note that the teacher for one of the Sped programs worked on a part-time basis.  Then in Feb. that teacher told the district she would be on full-time leave until the end of the schools year.  I'm assuming this is some health issue that was worked out between the union and the district but the issue is that these students needed a full-time teacher.
At the same time, one parent e-mailed the District executive director of Sped saying "issues were now reaching a crisis level and needed more District-level attention."
Mid-winter break happens and then the original parent again writes to school and District staff and includes other Sped parents.
The Complainant stated that the parents had met to discuss their concerns about the special education program at the elementary school. The parents believed.that the IDEA had been violated, and that the students were not receiving a free and appropriate education. The parents were concerned that the Access program did not currently have a teacher, and that there appeared to be no plan in place to have teacher in the position for the remainder of the year. The parents requested that a meeting be scheduled to discuss their concerns in a "direct forum."
The principal responded with an e-mail, outlining what steps they were taking to give these students services, they had a substitute teacher for the Sped teacher and would schedule a meeting in early March.

Conclusions

Aide Support

The District admits that it did not provide students in the Access program and students in the EBD programs with aide support consistent with their lEPs during the 2014-2015 school year. The District's documentation shows that part of the reason that aide support was not provided was a lack of available substitute instructional assistants (lAs). The District's documentation also shows that lA support was not provided because the elementary school did not have a service schedule in place at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year in order to ensure that instructional support could, and would be provided consistent with the students' lEPs (discussed further below in lssue 2).
It is also noted that the documentation shows that District staff believed that it was appropriate to assign Student 3's 1 :1 lA to provide support for other students even though the District was reimbursed for a 1:1 lA for Student 3 through the safety net process. It is not appropriate for a designated 1:1 aide in a student's IEP to be assigned to provide support to other students, especially when the District has certified through the safety net process that the lA was only available for Student 3.
Specially Designed Instruction
 The District also admits that it failed to provide students in the Access program and the EBD programs with specially designed instruction consistent with their lEPs. In its response, the District again points to a lack of staff as the primary reason that the students did not receive their specially designed instruction. However, the District's documentation shows that the major reason the District failed to provide specially designed instruction is because the District failed to a have a plan in place at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year to provide the students with the instruction stated in their lEPs. Had the elementary school started the school year with a clearly defined service schedule in place, then students would have received services beginning the first week of school and even if substitutes were utilized, the students would have consistently received at least some of their specially designed instruction. Instead, the District's documentation shows that students were not scheduled to begin receiving specially designed instruction until three or four weeks after the school year began.

The practice of waiting until after school has begun to start scheduling students to receive their specially designed instruction as stated in their lEPs is inconsistent with the IDEA, and in this case led to a failure to provide students with required services from September 2014 through February 2015, because a service delivery schedule was never properly developed or implemented.  
Additionally, information provided by the District suggests that the elementary school also has a service model which keeps students in the EBD classroom for a greater amount of time than stated in their IEPs, and then gradually increases the amount of time the students spend in a general education setting as the students' social/behavior skills progress apparently based in part on "professional judgement". The amount of services stated in an IEP is not a guideline or to be determined by staff. The amount of services included in a student's IEP reflects an IEP team's determination that a student's educational needs warrant the amount of services stated in the lEP. lf the District believes that some students are in need of increased or decreased amounts of specially designed instruction at the beginning on the school year, the District must hold IEP meetings to make such determinations. Similarly, if the District believes that after a certain time period, the amount of services in a student's IEP is no longer appropriate, or that the student requires a change of placement, the District must hold IEP meetings to amend the student's IEP to reflect the student's current needs. The District may not unilaterally increase or decrease. services, without consulting the student's IEP team, including the parents.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

OSPI at least is providing some relief, this time. But this exact complaint was filed about 3 years ago. No sped services at the beginning of the year. OSPI minimized it, and limited the decision to speech therapy (really, everyone else can start working in Nov, and it's ok????). The remedy was a required memo, reminding principals to do sped on time. They didn't. This year, we saw most speech pathologists started work in Nov. And we continue to see other "service plans" start in Nov. And this absolutely is not a Stevens issue. Once again OSPI minimizes this glaring problem by failing to require audits of service matrices district-wide. And failing to find out just how many sped subs are never hired at all. How much sped staff is filled by subs? And how many subs are just never hired at all for sped students? The number is huge! OSPI surely will never bother to look. Imagine what a real corrective action will find and cost to remedy.

Melissa claims sped is underfunded. Why then do we continue to see Sped staff used as a piggy bank? Sped staff are routinely used as subs for general ed, even when sped subs cannot be found. SDI abandoned. Kids don't get pullout. Kids don't get in-class support. But, Gen ed does get a sub. And who really will know? We continue to see sped funded staff used to teach general ed classes. That evidence doesn't support a claim of sped underfunding. It means administrators view sped as "overfunded". So overfunded, that the funds can regularly and systematically be redirected to the sub-pool. (not to mention, the odd-job pool). The problem is not that sped is underfunded or expensive, it's that it isn't valued. There's zero pride in sped. Diversity is not valued by the district, including by the parents. You can't really and truly value diversity, but devalue special education.

Spedpert

mirmac1 said...

There have been NO consequences for the principal and AP, and NONE for their boss Exec Dir of Schools Pritchett who knew full well what was happening, but must feel sped is overfunded too. In fact when Pritchett was principal at McClure, she used Sped teachers to teach GenEd.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Where did I say Sped is underfunded? I said that it appears it is underfunded due to services not given. It's not the same thing. You seem to be saying so yourself.

But I disagree that it's not expensive. For some very challenged students, it is very expensive.

I plan on sending this thread to the Board because I'm willing to bet none of them know about it. Naturally, Nyland won't be doing anything.

Anonymous said...

"I do not believe there is bad intent in any of this. But it seems that when push comes to shove, the district leadership tends to believe that IEPs and Special Ed services are, by and large, provided."

Melissa, this is a misstatement. All evidence points to one thing. That, when it comes to special education the belief system is that there are no laws, only guidelines. Loose ones. Approximations. And underlying this is the belief that after all, we're doing the kids a favor by letting them come to school in the first place.

This is the utterly corrupt way that the district operates in regards to special education.

Reader

Anonymous said...

Current district policy is to "fade out" all 1:1 IAs. Why? To pay for administrators required by OSPI. Such a policy is not based on student need, but on funding needs.... for administrators. Notably, 4 IAs cost about what a single administrator costs. It is illegal to have that defacto policy as well. Why is there nobody looking into the huge costs associated with out of district placement? This has increased greatly over the last five years. Why aren't schools serving their citizens? Why is sped getting pushed out?



Spedpert

Anonymous said...

When you say special ed is "expensive", you imply that we don't have enough money for it. And, therefore it follows that it is underfunded. It's something of an excuse. It's so expensive we can't do it. That is the underlying claim.

What does expensive really mean. Melissa focused on a single, costly student. Arguably any student placed out of district is going to be expensive,especially if residential. How many of these are there? Notably she doesn't, for some reason, focus on the several thousand students who receive a few minutes of therapy weekly. Are those expensive? As in, 15 to 20 minutes, often in small groups. The district receives $4,000 for each of these students, even if they just receive therapy, at minimal levels. Are these students expensive? Expensive is just such a relative and loaded characterization.

SpedPert

TheGoodFight said...

The last few days I've been reading various articles and sections of books trying to create some sort of message that would resonate will the various camps in SPS. My partner pointed me to the Richard Hofstadter book - anti-intellectualism in American life.

I browsed thru various chapters and stopped at page 365, it was more like I hit a wall. Page 365 contains Hofstadter's paraphrasing of G.R. Glenn's - What manner of child shall this be. As I read Hofstadter's words I forgot the book was written in 1963, because I swear he was referring the current state of SPS. At that time I had no clue who G.R Glenn was.
G.R Glenn as it turns out was the Superintendent of public instruction for the state of Georgia and he wrote "What manner of child shall this be" in 1900.

I encourage everyone to go read both the paraphrased version and the original version of "What manner of child shall this be". Do this before you make any excuses for the state of Special education in the Seattle public school system. I think you might have a change of heart.

Anonymous said...

The reason federal law was needed in the first place for students with disabilities and English language learning is because states and districts could not be counted on to provide services and do the right thing on their own. ELL students do not (and should not) automatically "time out" in their language needs or legal rights, which are based on a complex matrix of both informal and (increasingly mostly) content areas of proficiency.

http://www.k12.wa.us/migrantbilingual/eld.aspx

SPS is utterless shameless in this regard. As SpedPert noted, the district does not value diversity. I'll take it one step further. SPS does not value those they perceive as lacking power.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

"Overfunded" describes how administrators feel those kids with disabilities don't really need those IAs so let's use them as recess monitors, reading tutors, and GenEd language interpreters.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget that until people like Sarah Pritchett (Education Director) absolutely begin to hold principals and staff accountable for what goes on in the same of special education in their buildings, lots and lots and lots of kids will need those 1:1 IAs. That's because the teachers do not pull their weight AND get a free pass from the principals and from the likes of these useless education directors. And 1:1 IAs can be a genuine boost to some students. That is an IEP team decision.

Reader

TheGoodFight said...

Services are still not being provided, but the administrators are now using improved vocabulary when describing what they are not providing.

mirmac1 said...

Reader

Michael Tolley doesn't hold Pritchett accountable. The occupants of JSCEE see no value in holding themselves accountable: "we're not about pointing fingers!" Um, except when it comes to "angry" parents, students with disabilities, or "burdensome" laws.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm a bit surprised at some reactions here. You do realize I'm in your corner? You do realize that my main point is that the district is not doing what it is legally mandated to do?

All Sped students should be served. That the district, seemingly, does not take this seriously is deeply troubling. Almost as if they didn't believe it. If you read the whole thing, OSPI says the district used the term "professional judgment" on why they did certain things. And OPSI says they can't do that.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if OSPI did more to fulfill it's role in oversight. Apparently, "professional judgment" is aok when it comes to oversight by OSPI, even if it is inadequate for use by SPS. Looking at the giant lump under the rug, or at the huge hole in the corner, which is special education - isn't part of ensuring a FAPE or IDEA compliance according to OSPI, even when people file citizen complaints. OSPI really should take these things seriously, but they don't. What impetus does the district have in even listening to OSPI? There really is no cost at largely ignoring them. Look no further than the farcical CCAP, or R-CAP. Those are both HUGE jokes. Really? Does somebody think that upgrading software (for about the 1 millionth time) is going to improve anything for any student? Did any parents or teachers say - wow, if only my kid's teacher had better IEP writing software, my kid would have made progress? Do people really think this? That's what professional judgment from OSPI looks like. Do the minimum. And hire pets we know. Does somebody really think that yet another round of consultants, who have 0 experience or expertise in special education, who waltz in, steal a lot of funds, then waltz out... that will improve anything for any student?

Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

And when you think about it, where's the School Board? Where's Nyland? They should be questioning the corrective action plan and the millions that are going into it. Where are the corrections? The Stevens and BF Day situations are not unique -- it's only that families in these schools have managed to get organized.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Look, Nyland is not going to do anything except burnish his cred to be a consultant. Just like Banda, I have never heard him say anything of real substance that showed me he truly understands this district. It's like having Mr. Friendly as a superintendent.
I think he is much more interested in impressing downtown than parents.

Someone asked about buying him out - he's way too expensive. We are stuck, sad to say.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid thing to do--hire Nyland in a way that makes it practically impossible to fire him. Who signed off on this deal anyway? Oh right...

HF

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think half of the Sped issues are easy fixes. SPS CREATES a good number of IEP students. Yes, creates them. Different learning styles (i.e. sub-threshhold or pre-dyslexia) can be identified early, like prior to Kindergarten. Those students don't need Sped per se, they need multi-sensory/Slingerland based classrooms. If there were an option school based on this style of learning, my guess is a lot of families would self-select and never enter Sped in the first place. There are a lot of IEP's that are more a reflection of mediocre classrooms than of true disabilities. An inability to conform to a poor situation automatically is branded disabled.
Elementary classrooms are so limited in who they serve well. It seems as if the only ways to get more appropriate instruction are to go "up" (Advanced Learning) or "down" (Sped). Why no lateral options? (Option schools are maxed out, I believe, waitlists only?) If you have a child who, for any reason, does not fit the mold, you are out of luck. Are there many families who are satisfied with their gen ed elementary experiences?
There are a number of national initiatives (non-corporate) targeted toward Slingerland-based instruction in public schools. Sadly, I think our problem is more a lack of will than a lack of funding because we could free up Sped dollars by relying on these early-reading classrooms models (reading/dyslexia are large numbers of sped).
ReadingMom

Anonymous said...

"There are a lot of IEP's that are more a reflection of mediocre classrooms than of true disabilities. An inability to conform to a poor situation automatically is branded disabled."

Oh, well said!!!

reader

Anonymous said...

Let's think about "expensive" again. A "communication impaired" student typically receives something like 30 minutes of services weekly, maybe with 2 other students. At $30/hr, this boils down to $5/wk. A private slp would bill at $120/hr, but public schools pay much less and have no rent. 40 weeks in a school year means this service costs around $200 per student. (Of course, this can be further reduced by starting slp services 10 weeks late in the school year.) The district receives $4000 for each student with an iep, no matter how simple the IEP. These students are net money makers for the district, bringing in more than $3000 per student. They also represent one of the largest components of special ed students, at around 25%, eg something like 2000 students. Off the cuff, $3,000 x 2,000 = $6 million in pure profits. On the other hand, we also have a bunch of autistic students. When the district published blue/green books, it listed the cost of these students at $20,000, or a net loss of around $16,000 per student. Fortunately, despite all the complaints, there are something like 500 autistic students, mostly in SM4 programs. This boils down to a $800,000 loss. Not all that bad, especially given the gargantuan waste downtown. How many executive directors can you get for $800k? Not very many! Most students with disabilities fall somewhere in between. There are also some outliers that cost more.

Students with disabilities represent a cost to the district, whether or not they are identified. The district will be compensated a whole lot more if it identifies students with a disability than if it doesn't. There's no percentages in leaving money on the table and trying to avoid special education as Reading Mom suggests. Its always a financial win to try to bill the state for special ed costs, regardless of what service is needed or provided. Sped dollars never get "freed up". If students aren't identified, the state never provides funding. Notably, the state doesn't pay for special education students above a 12.7% cap. Miraculously, that's nearly the exact amount the district finds. (It's a bit higher because the state has no limit on preschoolers with disabilities, so they drive the identification upwards to the 14% range.)

Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I think folks understand you are in their corner -- it is just such a hot topic that when you pin it on the wall, you then have to sprint out of the way when upset parents and citizens come out blazing! Thanks for the post.

There is an incredible failure of will when it comes to the administration's views on SPED. They simply don't care. They think that whatever scraps or bones thrown the way of SPED ought to be gratefully swallowed, with no "please, sir, I want some more" nonsense. They are abetted in many cases by school based administrators and teachers who ALSO do not want to deal with "those kids," integrate them into classes, or spend 2 minutes thinking about how to creatively meet their needs (but it is evidently awfully nice to have those handy IAs around when you need an emergency sub).

Jan

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, you are probably right.

Nyland told the Executive Committee how the district had driven a few more dollars to some schools and rather than being grateful, they complained.

But I think the schools have felt the cuts from the state and then they see dollars at JSCEE for all these initiatives and wonder why they should be grateful for scraps.

Anonymous said...

I think Melissa's attitude toward Speddie in a recent thread, both in terms of chiding Speddie's "tone" and then letting others try to "out" the poster with no consequences, was a lower point on this blog.

I also think the linking/equating of routinely violated federally protected programs in this same post as HC, which (although extremely dysfunctional,) is about as fair as comparing a bad hair day to a serious illness.

--enough already

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough Already, I am mystified by your consistent attempts to call me out on these issues. I don't get it.

But I did NOT out anyone and I cannot control what others do beyond deleting their comments (which I mostly did).

I'm sorry you don't like/believe in HC but these are federal/state mandated programs - ALL of them. You can certainly also take up your unhappiness with the district, your state legislators and your House Rep and our Senators.

Anonymous said...

Wow, enough already. So if cognitively gifted students don't learn anything in school it's ok--just a "bad hair day!" (that may last for years)--but if the same is true for SpEd students it's like a serious illness? Why are SpEd kids more deserving of an opportunity to learn? Is it the old "those gifted kids will be fine!" approach? Or is it the "I don't believe anyone is gifted in the first place" approach? Do we only educate based on need? If so, why don't we just have everyone else stay home until the highest need or lowest performing groups catch up?

I understand you have problems with the current HC program, as do many "HCC supporters." But to suggest that the district's lack of interest in appropriately serving highly gifted kids--who do have very unique needs and really should have IEPs--is trivial seems particularly hateful. The reality is, the district is NOT providing an appropriate opportunity for such kids, and compliance with the law seems to be on paper only. This can have very real and tragic consequences for some highly gifted kids.

I'm curious: are there other groups of kids we should not bother to teach, or is it just the HC kids? Think of all the money we could save! Oh wait--it really shouldn't cost any more to appropriately serve HC kids. It's just a matter of wanting to do the right thing, complying with the law, implementing best practices, etc. In other words, nothing that SPS's strong suit.

Half Full

mirmac1 said...

I have seen emails where the SpEd fiscal analyst is pushing schools to get those numbers to 12.7% to squeeze that extra $$$ from the state. Then, rather than be grateful, SPS turns around and complains about how much SpEd costs. They need to reform their practice of accounting for the "excess cost" of serving SpEd students.

Here's an example: JSCEE administrators have informed a long-time SpED certificated teacher that s/he must get a dual cert in arts education or not get renewed. Then they can bill that teacher's time to SpED while teaching Gened. It seems that it's easier to pound on SpEd teachers to get dual certs than GenEd teachers. Then JSCEE turns around and whines to the board how they can't find enough SpEd teachers and now have to provide compensatory education to the children they neglected to serve (*WAH*).

The next Superintendent of Instruction needs to remove do-nothing OSPI Dir of SpED Doug Gill and put someone there who will make SPS follow federal laws. A federal court ruled the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction violated IDEA for failing to discharge its supervisory duty. Gill fiddles while SPS has had two corrective actions for failing to serve students. That is an outrage!

Anonymous said...

When your child is disabled and is is not getting services, it is very, very serious.
When your child is qualified for ELL and is not getting appropriate services, it is very, very serious.

When your child is getting self-contained HC (even when they are not being monitored for appropriate placement), it is not comparable.

When your child should be in HC but isn't because the system isn't identifying them, it is serious.

Get real.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

BTW, I'm a gifted and HC advocate, as I am an advocate for all of my students. My former students and parents in HCC would vouch for that in a heartbeat (since I strongly advocated for them).

I'm not for Spectrum and the program formerly known as APP because they are not research validated or based on best practices in any way, shape or form.

I've made this point very clear before, but some people like to retreat to the "hater" or "you don't support these programs" approach in order to avoid dealing with the obvious dysfunction and unfairness in the system.

Now, let's get back to focusing on the people who are actually struggling.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

When your child needs HC services but is getting "HCC"--which is a cohort, not actual services--it is very, very serious.

Real

TheGoodFight said...

Just so it's clear to me, people on this blog believe if a student can perform well in Honors level classes they are being disenfranchised because they are not being challenged? and same people believe that it's no different from struggling students not receiving the supports they need just to perform at grade level?

Anonymous said...

@ enough already, is that because HCC is so great? I thought you agreed that it fails those who really need it.

Half Full

mirmac1 said...

Oh gawd can we stick to Sped on this sped thread?

TheGoodFight said...

@ReadingMom Thank you.

Curriculum educed dyslexia is real. I have been fighting SPS for over two years to allow the UW dyslexia research team access to SPS students. The team has volunteered to work for FREE and develop evidence based curriculum and programs for students needing SLD supports. Maybe Mellissa could ask the players at SPS why they have refused.

Anonymous said...

@ mirmac1,

You might want to reread Melissa's original post. Specifically, the 2nd paragraph:

This thread is about legally mandated programs for students that have been an issue for the district for a very long time, namely, ELL, Special Education and Advanced Learning.

It's not a "sped thread."

Half Full

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Half Full, I continued by saying this is about a case study of Sped and that we were NOT going to get into these conversations over HC.

So let's all stop now.

TheGoodFight said...

Did anyone bother to read - what manner of child shall this be, by G.R. Glenn ?

Here's the link

Anonymous said...

My apologies. I thought the case study was an example of the larger issue of the thread--the district's lame attempts at compliance with all three mandated services. Sorry for the misunderstanding--and that I took enough already's bait. Please feel free to delete my comments.

Half Full

TheGoodFight said...

It's hard to know whether or not SPED is underfunded, because the accounting is so poor.
I've repeatedly asked for transparency in the use of SPED funds, but the district uses the false shield of confidentiality to block access. SPS's own internal audit exposed many accounting issues with SPED funds and it's not clear if there's been any improvements in the use of funds or the accounting. OSPI and DOE have refused multiple request from parents to perform a fiscal audit on SPED, but have acknowledged various issues that SPS is working on correcting.(right)

I do clearly remember a SPED director stating she was having a difficult time finding out where the $100 million annually in SPED funds were being spent. I would say based on the players involved, citizen complaints and poor SPED accounting it would be reasonable for the board to ask for an external investigation, I personally would.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Good Fight, that's a good question. It seems odd that the district was under a Corrective plan from OSPI and yet I didn't see/hear that OSPI asked for an accounting of the money. Anyone?

Because if not, why not?

mirmac1 said...

The 2013 WISM called out SPS' accounting, and the original CCAP required "training". That's it. SPS must be good to go....

TheGoodFight said...

I just can't get this out of my mind,

“Time was when the power of the teacher was measured by what he could do with a bright boy or a bright girl. From the beginning of this new century the power of the teacher will be measured by what he will be able to do with the dull boy, the defective child. More than ever before in the history of this world the real test of teaching power will be measured, not by what can be done with the best, but by what can be done with the worst boy in the school. The new educational psychology will be “the psychology of the prodigal son and the lost sheep.” The “great rejoicings” in American life will come when child study is so mastered and the development of schools so perfected that the educational system touches and develops every American boy. “We shall come to out place rejoicing when we have saved every one of these American children and made every one of them a contributor to the wealth, to the intelligence, and to the power of this great democratic government of ours.” G.R Glenn 1900

Anonymous said...

Barf!

Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

Let's get back to Stevens and B.F. Day. In the era of an expensive ("transformational" to quote from the info-managed Friday memos) corrective action plan that never gained credibility with the superintendent's special education advisory and advocacy council (SEAAC) in the first place, we could all "I told you so!". Except that, nobody listened then and nobody is listening now. School Board? Hello?

Let's stop drinking the Friday Memo koolaid! Stevens and B.F. Day are business as usual in SPS.

Cool head

TheGoodFight said...

SEAAC has always been a joke and the current board is not going to take any action on SPED issues. Your best chance will be if the 4 new board members are interested in taking on the issues or will they just be another rubber stamp committee. Of coarse that means waiting until they come into office in 2016. SP attended a SPED PTSA meeting on her first day then never returned. We never found out why she abandoned SPED.

Stevens and B.F. Day parents should file hearings request then make a settlement for $9,000.00 each in compensatory services. The district is ready to pay this amount.

Maybe there is a former special education lawyer out there who would be willing to help the parents fill out the paper work?

Oh and BTW there is no more RC-CAP, SPS is now operating on a MOU.

Anonymous said...

GoodFight, can you tell us when the Feds will be coming? We kept hearing about that imminent rescue. Oh, and at the last board election, 4 new board members "were a joke". Some new ones aren't really new. The real joke is ospi, so don't complain there. Actually, the district said it will pay about half that, so, pretty cheap. CCAP was always a joke.

Jokester

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good Fight,

Maybe there is a former special education lawyer out there who would be willing to help the parents fill out the paper work?"

That's exactly what Jill Geary - a Sped parent and former administrative law judge for OSPI - used to do. I don't think she has time now as a candidate but that was she was doing. In fact, my first knowledge of her was her sending me an e-mail about an informal workshop she was having to help Sped parents.

TheGoodFight said...

I don't see the "FEDS" coming or doing anything now or in the future.
The SPS offer is pennies compared to what parents can be awarded via due process. SPS has already admitted guilt and has set aside close to 2 million to pay possible awards or settlements. To SPS it's a numbers game, as long as parents sit back and except the gross negligence, payouts remain small, SPS employees are not fired, then nothing will change.

The ink had dried on the new $462,000.00 SPED manual before SPS started ignoring it!

4. The Special Education Supervisor will notify parents no
later than the second week of school of the lack of services due to
the ESA staffing shortage(s), and that compensatory services will
be provided to make up for any missed services. Each Special
Education Supervisor will respond to questions or complaints from
parents in his/her region about the lack of services provided.
Principals and teachers at schools affected by ESA staffing
shortages should refer parents to the appropriate Supervisor. The
Supervisor will notify parents when a District staff member or
contract provider has been hired, and when the ESA services will
begin.

1. The Legal Liability Budget may be requested for unanticipated
expenses in the following areas:
a. Independent Education Evaluations (IEEs)
b. Standing Contracts for Tutoring and Interpreting Services
c. Administrative Orders and Negotiated Settlements
d. Other, with approval from the Office of General Counsel,
upon completion of the Legal Liability Funding Approval
Form (approval may occur at Legal Roundtable, with forms
submitted within one school day of the meeting)
Use

TheGoodFight said...

We are all busy and to be clear I wasn't referring to any candidate in my previous statement. Since you brought up the subject, let me say I do think some people will say what they think others want to hear for a vote, but I'm not going to get into peoples motives for running for school board or the methods used to get there.

This is not a hot potato issue, you don't have to blame teachers in the complaint. It was clearly a failure of the administration to follow the law and their own freshly minted $462,000 manual.

You would think someone qualified would want to help out of the goodness of their heart with no ego or ulterior motives. It would basically be a form letter and a lot of cut and paste from the citizen complaint decision.



SPS Parent said...

In respect to the comment(s) about Sarah Pritchett, you are absolutely correct. She is a policy-wonk who has no real compassion for kids and is mostly interested in protecting teachers and principals under her watch, even when they have numerous complaints from parents. She has zero...ZERO commitment to children or education. She's made it quite clear this is merely a job and she values her "friendships" in her job more than the children. Terrible administrators like Sarah Pritchett should be thrown out of the school system.