The feds identify continuing “important” concerns regarding private education in Virginia

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After failing to meet federal requirements to support students with disabilities in 2020, the Virginia Department of Education will remain under additional review by the federal government after it continues to fail to monitor and respond to complaints against school districts, according to a letter from the US Department of Education.

“We have new or continuing areas of concern regarding the state’s implementation of the public supervision, dispute resolution, and confidentiality requirements” of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), said a February 17 letter from the Office of Special Education Programs.

The US Department of Education first expressed concerns in A June 2020 “Differential Monitoring and Support” report on how Virginia is complying with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, following a visit by the Office of Special Education Programs in 2019.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), passed in 1975, requires that all students with disabilities receive a “free and appropriate public education.”

The Virginia Department of Education opposed some of the Federal government results in a 19 June 2020 letter.

State officials say that special education is a “core priority.” Parents and advocates beg to differ.

Samantha Hollins, assistant superintendent of special education and student services, writes that verbal complaints are “addressed via phone calls for technical assistance to school departments” and that faculty “work regularly to resolve parental concerns” by providing “guiding documents” and acting as mediators between school staff and parents matters.

However, some parents and advocates say systemic problems with how the state supports families of children with disabilities persist. Meanwhile, a state report released on June 15, 2022 found a Virginia state report The most important areas of teacher shortage in special education.

“Appropriate policies and procedures for both oversight and compliance, and their implementation, is critical to ensuring that children with disabilities and their families fulfill their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provide free appropriate public education (FAPE),” said February. 17 letters from the Office of Special Education Programs.

While the US Department of Education wrote that it believes the Virginia Department of Education has resolved some of the issues identified in 2020, including resolving complaints from parents and establishing a mediation plan, it said it has identified “new and continuing areas of concern” and intends to continue to monitor provision Virginia Services for Students with Disabilities.

Among these are persistent concerns about state complaint and due process systems that “beyond the originally identified concerns” in which they were originally found. The Office of Special Education Programs wrote that it has concluded that Virginia “does not have procedures and practices reasonably designed to ensure a timely resolution process” for due process complaints.

The department also said it has concerns about the practices of at least five school districts that do not comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations.

The decision comes after the US Department of Education Announced in November That Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia’s largest school district, failed to provide thousands of students with disabilities the educational services they deserved during remote learning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia also faces a federation class action over allegations that the Department of Education and Fairfax County Public Schools violated the rights of students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Parents involved in the case said the Virginia Department of Education and the Fairfax School Board “actively developed an unfair and biased listening system” to oversee challenges to local decisions about students with disabilities, according to the suit.

Charles Pyle, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education, said in an email that “VDOE continues to work with our federal partners to ensure Virginia complies with all federal requirements, as we have done since the release of the ‘Differential Monitoring and Support Report’ in June 2020.”

The federal government has said that if Virginia cannot demonstrate full compliance with the requirements of the IDEA, it can impose conditions on grant money the state receives to support early intervention and special education services for children with disabilities and their families.

Last year, Virginia received nearly $13.5 billion in various grants related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), according to a July 1, 2022 letter To former Superintendent of General Instructions Jillian Ballou, who resigned on March 9.

James Federman, president of the Virginia Education Association, criticized Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration after the results were released.

“While the Youngkin administration was busy waging culture wars in schools, his administration failed to meet basic compliance requirements with the US Department of Education for students with disabilities,” Federman said. “This failure threatens our federal funding for students with special needs and is a disservice to Virginia families who need critical special needs support.”

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