Feds issue final report on disproportionality problems
The official word has finally come down from the U.S. Department of Education on California's invalid special education disproportionality formula.
As previously reported, the department has decided they will not impose the severe financial penalties on California school districts that used incorrect guidance from the state that may have resulted in districts over-identifying some ethnic groups and some disability categories as special needs students.
In a letter to Tom Torlakson, the state's school chief dated Feb. 7 but not publicly released until late last week, the director of the federal Office of Special Education said that regulators found a number of problems with supervision the California Department of Education provided districts on special education issues.
While disproportionality may have been the problem that caused local educational agencies the greatest concern, a federal review team also found:
the state was not ensuring that districts convene a resolution meeting within 15 days of receiving notice of a parent's due process complaint;
the state has not ensured that LEAs implement corrective actions that a due process hearing officer includes in a due process hearing decision;
and, that the state was not including all sources of state financial support in calculating state-level funds made available for special education and related services for children with disabilities.
In each case, the state has been given a period of time to fix the citations.
On disproportionality, the federal office found that while the state's existing disparity index could be an appropriate step in determining significant disproportionality in special education and related services," they ruled it was also inconsistent with federal rules.
The federal office has ordered California officials within 90 days to provide its revised procedures for determining disproportionality, consistent with the federal requirements.
The new procedure must ensure that LEAs have significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity with respect to:
(1) the identification of children as children with disabilities, including the identification of children as children with disabilities in accordance with a particular impairment;
(2) the placement in particular educational settings of these children;
(3) and the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions.
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