Schools with new special education coordinators Welcome and Introductions
Robert Compton - Executive Director of Federal Programs and School Safety Beckie Davis - Director of Special Services Vamshi Rudrapati (Mr. V) - Assistant Director of Federal Programs Zenobia Ealy - Assistant Director of Technology Services Kendall Stewart - Student Information Coordinator Welcome and Introductions
Special Education Coordinators Mariann Carter Nichole Adams Mary Scott
Oh, The Places You'll Go The South Carolina Public Charter School District The Role of the Special Education Coordinator Lesson’s Learned Just Enough to Get you Started Things That Might Be New To You Today’s Agenda
The South Carolina Public Charter School District
Organizational Chart Differences from a traditional district The District as an authorizer Monitoring/oversight –Comprehensive Program Review (CPR) –Support Triangle The South Carolina Public Charter School District
School’s Assigned Special Education Coordinator Robbie Compton (for schools with Letters of Noncompliance) Beckie Davis (for schools with Letters of Noncompliance) Mr. V (forms/Adobe/Axcrypt) Kendall Stewart (Enrich) Who Do I Call? Start Here
In a traditional district, there would be: –“District supports” Coordinators, curriculum specialists, school psychologists, related service providers (OTs, PTs, nurses, …) District-level staff development opportunities –District staff checking behind you –District staff hiring and firing –District-wide programs (self-contained class for students with low incidence disabilities) Us versus the Traditional District
The SCPCSD As Authorizer Evaluates and approves/denies charter applications Executes contracts with each of its schools Monitors the performance and compliance of its schools according to each school’s charter Notifies schools of deficiencies and violations Monitors to ensure correction of any findings of noncompliance
Recommends nonrenewal/revocation for schools that consistently do not meet charter goals or fail to correct outstanding noncompliance Supports accountability and student achievement Protects school autonomy Holds its schools accountable for their outcomes
The SCPCSD is not responsible for the success or failure of your schools – schools are responsible for your own outcomes With autonomy comes responsibility
The SCPCSD As LEA Provides programmatic assistance/support services in the areas of assessment, curriculum and instruction, federal programs, finance, human resources, public relations, special services, and technology Distributes federal and state funds
The SCPCSD As LEA Pursuant to SC charter school law, the sponsor of a charter school is the charter school’s LEA and the charter school is a school within that LEA The SCPCSD retains responsibility for special education and must ensure that students enrolled in its charter schools are served in a manner consistent with LEA obligations under applicable federal, state, and local law
Relationship between Charter School Authorizer and Charter School Autonomy in exchange for Accountability Charter Schools have the autonomy to self-govern; select their own curriculum; hire, train, and dismiss their own staff; and develop and decide how to spend their own budget In return, charter schools are expected to be accountable to their authorizers for student achievement, fiscal responsibility and sustainability, charter and legal compliance, and organizational viability
Charter Schools National Alliance for Public Charter Schools: “Public Charter schools are always public schools. They never charge tuition, and they accept any student who wants to attend. Charter laws require that students are admitted by a random lottery drawing in case too many students want to enroll in a single charter school. Charter schools must also meet the state and federal academic requirements that apply to all public schools.”
Charter Schools Charter schools are not exempt from federal laws that cover equal rights, access and discrimination. Students attend charter schools by choice of their parents or guardians rather than by assignment by a school district.
Compliance Monitoring The South Carolina Charter Schools Act requires authorizers to: monitor the performance and legal/fiscal compliance of each charter school conduct or require oversight activities including conducting appropriate inquiries and investigations only if such activities are consistent with the law and do not unduly inhibit the autonomy granted to charter schools
Compliance notify the charter school of perceived problems if the school’s performance or legal compliance appears to be unsatisfactory take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation including requiring a school to develop a Corrective Action Plan within a specified timeframe determine whether each school’s charter merits renewal, nonrenewal, or revocation
SCPCSD Compliance Ladder SCPCSD created a compliance system to notify schools of performance/compliance issues and to help track compliance The compliance system is a 3-tiered, risk- based approach with graduated notices/warnings: –Caution, –Noncompliance, and –Revocation
SCPCSD Compliance Ladder SCPCSD addresses noncompliance throughout the calendar year as concerns/deficiencies are identified Each tier triggers a specific notice to a school and requires the school to take corrective action
Letter of Caution Schools are notified in writing that there is a performance or compliance deficiency Cautions are typically issued after the school has been afforded an opportunity to resolve the deficiency on its own and fails to do so Schools are provided a reasonable opportunity to remedy the deficiency through the development of a corrective action plan (CAP) Leading causes of cautions: special education violations, lack of special education capacity, failure to submit timely and/or accurate data/reports; test security violations; low academic achievement
Letter of Noncompliance Applies to schools that fall into one or more of the following three categories: schools that have been cautioned but have failed to self-correct; schools with subpar academic performance; or schools with systemic issues of noncompliance or a pattern of noncompliance A sanction short of revocation- provides a school with an opportunity to remedy the performance and/or compliance issues that led to probation via the development and implementation of a comprehensive remedial action plan Schools in noncompliance must demonstrate improvement and correct any outstanding issues of noncompliance as soon as possible, but in no case later than one year
Revocation/Nonrenewal S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-110(C) that authorizes a sponsoring school district to revoke the charter of a school that (1) commits a material violation of the conditions, standards, or procedures provided for in the charter application; (2) fails to meet or make reasonable progress, as defined in the charter application, towards pupil achievement standards identified in the charter application; (3) fails to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management; or (4) violates any provision of law from which the charter school was not specifically exempted.
Revocation/Nonrenewal The SCPCSD board has revoked 2 charters and declined to renew another The most recent revocation was related primarily to systemic, persistent special education noncompliance that had not been corrected within a year A neighboring school district revoked the charter of a school for failure to issue progress reports
So how do we do this? –In addition to the Performance Framework and monitoring schedule, the Federal Programs Department utilizes: Comprehensive Program Review (CPR) consisting of 25 compliance points. –Completed at the school level AND completed by District staff. »3 point scale (0 – 2) »Improvement Plan Priorities Scheduled reviews built into the yearly calendar: –Transfer IEPs –Child Count Verification Parental Complaints Verification of school submitted data Monitoring and Oversight
Assurances 1.The school has district-approved policies and procedures. 2.Special Education and related service staff are in place and are highly qualified, appropriately certified. 3.Special education related providers (school psychologist, OT PT, RN) are on staff or on contract are appropriately credentialed. 4.The total number of identified students are appropriately proportionate to hired special education staff so that all identified students are able to receive a FAPE. 5.Special education staff, other related service providers, and/or other school staff have engaged in professional development as to special education and RTI procedures, process and practice. 6.School files are kept confidential, locked, up to date, accessible, and organized with appropriate information stored for the required length of time. 7.The school maintains an up-to-date, confidential, and accurate database of students with IEPs. 8.All required information is marked complete and attached in Enrich in a timely manner. 9.All IEPs are compliant as demonstrated by a review of 5 IEPs (transfer, annual, initial evaluation, and/or reevaluations). 10.All active IEPs are reviewed annually. 11.All reevaluations have been conducted within appropriate timelines. 12.All active IEPs have documentation of progress monitoring at intervals described in the IEP. 13.Students receive services in accordance with their IEPs. 14.Evaluations for initial eligibility are comprehensive, are conducted by a multidisciplinary team, and contain evidence of previous research- based interventions. 15.Comparable services meetings occur within the first 5 school days after enrollment and services that are similar or equivalent to those that were described in the previous IEP are provided. 16.Transfer IEP meetings are conducted within 30 calendar days of enrollment. 17.The school has a means to track the removal of students for disciplinary reasons and to alert school staff when a student is approaching 10 days OSS. 18.All disciplinary removals of students with IEPs were done so in accordance with IDEA requirements and have been appropriately documented in Incident Management in PowerSchool. 19.The school has a means to document the provision of all accommodations and modifications required in IEPs. 20.All parents have been notified of their Procedural Safeguards at least annually. 21.Notices and other IDEA-required information have been presented to parents in understandable language (written language understandable by the general public and in the native language of the parent or other mode of communication used by the parent). 22.IDEA funds are used solely for district-approved IDEA related activities. 23.The school maintains an inventory of all equipment, materials, etc. purchased with special education funds throughout the life of the equipment. 24.The school submits timely and accurate data as required by Federal, State, and District reporting. 25.The school uses all forms required by the District.
Support Triangle Low Risk Schools Adequate scores on CPR Returning coordinators No findings or reasons for concern High Risk Schools New schools New coordinators Informal warnings Letters of caution Letters of noncompliance Revocation District/State/OCR findings
Support Triangle High risk schools New schools/new coordinators/informal warnings/letters of caution –Full CPR –Corrective action plan developed with sp ed coordinator –Targeted technical assistance via sp ed coordinator Letter of noncompliance –District involvement (Robbie or Beckie) Revocation –Legal involvement
In a traditional district, your responsibilities would be divided among: School Psychologists Curriculum Coordinators LEA reps Special Education Coordinators Special Education Director Guidance Counselor Data clerks And, oh yeah, Special Education Teachers
Child Find activities –Referrals –Evaluations –Eligibility Determinations Service Provision –Special education services as written in the IEP –Related service providers –Reevaluations Compliance –All deadlines are met –All IEPs are compliant –All documentation accessible Data Reporting –State and federally required data –PowerSchool –Enrich Sum of the Parts…
Process for identifying, locating, and evaluating all children with disabilities enrolled in the school –Referrals from parents or school staff –Coordinating the evaluation process Evaluation planning Gathering additional information within timelines –Coordinating eligibility determinations –Coordinating IEP development Child Find
Service Provision Ensuring services are provided as written in the IEPs –Comparable services for transfers –Progress monitoring –Appropriate type and amount of services –Communication with parents, teachers, staff, and students Securing related service providers –School Psychologist –OT –PT –Vision teacher –Counselor
Ensuring that special education services are provided, not only in accordance with the philosophy of your charter, but also in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations
All IEPs are compliant All paperwork is complete and attached in Enrich All deadlines are met Sp Ed Police Compliance
–Discipline data in Incident Management in PowerSchool –Enrich Attachments IEPs –Deadlines met 60-day timeline IEPs updated annually Reevaluations at least every 3 years Data Reporting
Many times you will be working with other district special education directors during the transfer process. You’ll be working with other District’s data managers for files. Other districts will be reading your IEPs. Please remember, right or wrong, you not only represent your school and represent the district, but you represent the charter school movement. Believe it or not, not everyone is pro-charter school. Please do not let your actions impact your school, the District, or the other 60+ charter schools. Be Professional and Respectful
Strong Sped Coordinator Compliance Review of last year –Which led to the changes (Special Education Coordinators, self-study, CPR) Challenges of B&M vs Virtual Lessons Learned
Over the past year, we’ve had: –4 Complaints with Office for Civil Rights alleging discrimination by schools –1 request for Due Process Hearing DPH officer determined no merit but only after –Day-long attempt at resolution –Countless hours of preparation, meetings, telephone calls, emails, … –Approximately $ in legal fees –1 State complaint Withdrawn after school convened IEP meeting to address issues to parent’s satisfaction Reflections of 2013 - 2014
SCDE Finding of non-compliance: –Indicator 11 (60-day timeline) OCR agreement to address accessibility for virtual schools Reflections 2013 - 2014
Lessons Learned Hiring a GREAT special education who is unable to “coordinate” the non-teaching aspects of IDEA: –Evaluations –Maintaining compliance –Dealing with “high-needs” parents –Working with general education teachers –Ensuring service delivery across staff (general ed teachers, other sp ed teachers, related service providers, …) These are the “process” things that are typically handled by district staff (school psychologists, coordinators,…) in a traditional district True text message received: “I hear you now, Robbie. It sounds like I’ve hired someone who is good with the students but is not able to handle the administrative side of things.” Lesson Learned: Hire someone who can handle the “administrative side” of IDEA.
Lessons Learned No one calls us to say “They are providing everything they should on the IEP, but I just don’t like my teacher.” Parents call to say: –“I’m not getting the services written in the IEPs.” –“I’ve been at school for 3 months and we’ve yet to have an IEP meeting.” –“I’ve not once received a progress report.” –“We had our meeting 3 weeks ago and I haven't received a copy of the IEP or PWN.” –“We transferred to the school and my child was receiving OT services, but the school said we don’t have an OT.” Lesson Learned: The IEP is a contract..... Follow it!
Lessons Learned Often times the principal’s background isn’t special education so he/she defers all special education questions and issues to the “school’s special education coordinator.” Six months into the year, come to find out that the special education coordinator has a degree in sp ed, but hasn’t taught in that field in 30 years and things have changed just a little bit in that time. Lesson Learned: The school leader needs to take an active role in special education, especially when it comes to compliance. Another Lesson: Just because someone has “special education” on his/her teaching certificate doesn’t mean that he/she is qualified to serve as the school’s special education coordinator.
Lessons Learned We’ve had quite a few situations where the child came from a self- contained class (extensive minutes) to one of our schools. In order to keep with the “school’s schedule and inclusive philosophy of the charter,” the child’s minutes were automatically lowered from 1,800 minutes per week to 250 minutes. Or the parent says “But I don’t want my child to be self-contained anymore.” The school almost ended up in a due process hearing that would have cost them several thousands of dollars to provide compensatory services to the child. Side note – compensatory services cannot be paid for out of your IDEA funds. Lesson Learned: Follow the district’s policies and procedures. It will save you lots of time and money. Another Lesson: Never make a change to an IEP that you don’t have data to support
Lessons Learned Often times the child transfers and the parents check “no” to the question about their child having an IEP. 3 months into school, the child begins having academic or behavioral problems. At this point (just prior to an expulsion), the parents say, “But my child has an IEP.” Regardless on what the parent checks on the enrollment form, during the enrollment process, schools must verify from the sending district that the child did or did not have an IEP. As a result, the school owed 3 months worth of compensatory services to the child and was unable to proceed with expulsion despite numerous, serious behavior issues. Lesson Learned: Have a process in place that verifies (and document) whether the child does or does not have an IEP, regardless of what the parent checks.
Lessons Learned Don’t wait until it is too late to realize that your special education program has hit rock-bottom and is at the point of no return. Take the warnings (both informal and formal) from the District staff very seriously. Seek assistance from an outside consultant (who is knowable in SC’s policies & procedures). Please understand that we’re doing our job.... “authorizers must revoke charters of schools who violate federal and state laws in which they are not exempt.” Additionally, we will exercise “sanctions short of revocation” to give the school an opportunity to self- correct.
Lessons Learned While no one wants to call to say they made a mistake, CALL when you’ve made a mistake or are not sure what to do. The worst thing is to let the District discover the systemic non-compliance before you let us know about it. Two-way communication is a must!
Lessons Learned Special education is a big deal Failure to adhere to your charter (which says you’ll adhere to all state and federal requirements for special education) can lead to revocation of the school’s charter
Brick & Mortar -parents expecting the “full continuum” from one charter school -not having the backing (resources) from a large EMO Virtual -Having a comprehensive understanding of the child -Communication between regular education and special education -Flexibility with curriculum Challenges remaining true to the charter while meeting federal regulations
Policies and Procedures Procedural Safeguards Forms (SharePoint/Enrich) Enrich 1 st 30-day process –Enrollment –Records –Transfers Just Enough to Get you Started (without scaring you too much)
Established Policies and Procedures (sort of) We have Policies.... Very good policies!Policies We lack procedures..... On purpose. You are charter schools and by nature, you want to do things your own way (within the confines of the regulations). Well...... Two things we’ve heard: –From the SCDE: Your schools are not able to produce copies of their procedures. –From the outside consultant at struggling schools: Your schools are not able to produce copies of their procedures or your schools have written policies, but are not following them or are not able to document they are following them. We now have policies WITH a space to indicate your procedures in the following areas: –Child Find –Parental Notification –Discipline (tracking) –LEA Designee
Forms The district has forms that the schools must use. Between Enrich and our forms, we’ve got you covered. The district has a procedural safeguard notice.procedural safeguard notice
We use an online program called Enrich to manage IEPs and special education data.Enrich Mandated by the SCDE. Enrich doesn’t talk with other districts (yet), so you’ll need to obtain previous IEPs (we’ll talk later). Enrich does talk with PowerSchool, so Enrich contains every child who is entered into PowerSchool. We’ll provide more information about Enrich on the 30 th. Enrich
1.Once enrolled, the school may begin gathering the needed information (records from previous district). The school must verify whether the child had an IEP; this could be as simple as a phone call to the sending school. 2.Special education records need to be requested from the former district’s director of special education (list provided) not from the school. 3.Once the child “sits for the first class” (or right before), without delay (up to 5 days), the IEP team will meet to determine “comparable services.”comparable services These services are comparable (similar or equivalent to) those in the “sending IEP” 4.Within 30 days of enrollment, the IEP team will meet to either accept (rare), revise, or create a new IEP (annual review). All decisions for this IEP MUST be data-driven. So use these 30 days to gather data. We will go into greater detail about this process on July 30 The first 30 days....
You cannot make any changes to the transfer IEP that you don’t have data to support
Confidentiality Child Find (obligations) –Public notice Funds Data IDEA coordination Related Services Things That Might Be New To You
E ach school must have a confidentiality statement and procedures for file access. The statement includes “authorized employees.” District’s sample statement Confidentiality
District’s Policy: The District’s Child Find notification and procedures are posted on the district’s website Each charter school is responsible for implementing the district’s child find procedures. Schools use a variety of methods to publicize their Child Find procedures. These methods include posting on individual school websites, posting in prominent places throughout the school, and notification through school newsletters and student handbooks. Schools will have to develop their own child find statement (sample). Child Find
IDEA Funds Funding is weighted by school type (B&M vs virtual) and weighted by disability. Based on the “last official” child count for returning schools or 5 th day count for new schools (informal). Funds are reimbursed 14%
IDEA Timelines: –September – SCDE informs District of the allocation –September (shortly after SCDE informs District) - Schools receives allocation and blank budget form. Schools submit budget request to District (10 days) –October – District submits IDEA application to the SCDE for approval –January – SCDE approves IDEA application –January (within a few days of SCDE notification) – budgets are loaded –March – school gets one-time amendment opportunity for IDEA funds (funds 203)
See Calendar We will provide training for every one of these reports. However, it is ultimately the school’s responsibility to submit timely and accurate data. Data Requirements
Does your school have “related service providers on standby? This includes speech, OT, PT, school psychologist, and counselor? If not, start making contacts now; don’t wait until you get the first IEP with OT listed to start trying to locate an OT. The local school district (district in which your school is physically located) has no obligation whatsoever to provide any special education services to your school. We have lists for school psychologists.lists Related Servce Providers
As you can see, making the jump from classroom teacher to special education coordinator is not an easy one. We look to you for “school-wide” coordination. This includes: –Your teachers and staff (compliance) –Your related service providers (services/compliance) –Your parents This responsibility is tremendous. IDEA Coordination
Resources – SharePoint, Enrich District Staff Special Education Coordinators
We have plenty of resources for you: –Any previous training, PPT, handout –Other people’s training materials –Specifics about Enrich/data reporting http://sccharter- web.sharepoint.com/Pages/IDEAResources.aspxhttp://sccharter- web.sharepoint.com/Pages/IDEAResources.aspx –Many “special education” books and resource guides (just ask) –OSEP, OCR, and Court rulings –Years and years of special education experience Resources
Each school will be assigned a special education coordinator. This person is the school’s first point of contact. The sp ed coordinator works specifically with the school to provide targeted technical assistance. The sp ed coordinator works with the school to develop individualized improvement plans. Special Education Coordinators
As your authorizer, and because ultimately it’s the District that will be held responsible for your special education programs, we want to see you succeed. Over the past four years, we’ve seen schools thrive and succeed and we’ve seen schools struggle and fail. We believe that our improvements for this year will help you be successful by assisting the school in identifying strengths and weaknesses early on and allowing enough time to make corrections before it’s too late. You have us
We’ll see you again on July 30 st (same time/location) Review the District Policies and Forms and come with questions. Begin thinking about your school’s service delivery. Begin playing in the Enrich sandbox. Start working with your school secretary on determining which students have IEPs and begin requesting records. Where Do I Start?