Virginia Department of Education failed to properly oversee special education complaints, report finds

Virginia News

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Education has failed to properly monitor or respond to special education complaints filed against local school systems, according to a federal report, and has been ordered to submit a corrective action plan by mid-September.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs held two on-site monitoring visits last May after “an unusually high number of customer service communications from parents, advocates, and other stakeholders in Virginia” claiming that the VDOE was not meeting its general supervisory responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

IDEA is a federal law that ensures a free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities throughout the country. According to the report, OSEP found systemic noncompliance and violations by the VDOE in regards to its program monitoring, addressing noncompliance issues, and problems with refusing parents due process in cases involving their special needs child.

READ: Full DMS report from the Office of Special Education Programs

“Based on the review of documents, analysis of data, and interviews with State personnel,” the report states, “OSEP concludes that the State does not have procedures and practices that are reasonably designed to enable the State to exercise general supervision over all educational programs for children with disabilities administered within the State, to ensure that all such programs meet the requirements of Part B of IDEA, and to effectively monitor the implementation of Part B of IDEA.”

The Virginia Department of Education disputes some of OSEP’s findings, but the department’s superintendent of public instruction said in a statement that VDOE will address areas of non-compliance in the report.

“The equitable provision of special education services is a core priority of the Virginia Department of Education and we take our responsibilities to serve students with disabilities, equip parents and advocates, and to hold local education agencies accountable to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act very seriously,” James Lane, the superintendent of public instruction at the Virginia Department of Education, said in a statement. “We are reviewing the letter and are fully committed to addressing any areas of non-compliance and continuing our strong service to serve students with disabilities throughout the commonwealth. VDOE fully intends to take prompt action to strengthen the areas of concern and looks forward to doing so in collaboration with Virginia and federal stakeholders.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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