The search for illegal Individualized Education Plans is going deeper, according to Darien special education ombudsman John Verre.
At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, Verre said he and managers from IEPDirect, the program used to house the district's IEPs, have worked to generate searches. The automated searches have not definitively located any more illegal IEPs, Verre said.
"We won't know the absolute answer to that until I finish going through the automated results," Verre said in response to board questions about how many additional IEPs will be found.
Verre said the review of all the IEPs will be completed by
the end of April.
Verre will conduct a manual analysis of the automated results to see if the search results do in fact yield illegal IEPs.
"It's been explained to me that we can't make an assumption that because a word was mentioned it was used in a way to represent a violation," said interim Superintendent of Schools Lynne Pierson.
There is no guarantee they will find additional illegal IEPs, but Verre said a thorough review must be done.
"We don't know if there are additional cases," Verre said.
Since the district hired Verre in October 2013, he has been combing through IEPs to identify any illegalities.
In March 2013, a group of parents filed a complaint with the state Department of Education claiming that the Darien Public Schools violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by removing the "team aspect" of the Planning and Placement Team meetings, at which students' programs and goals for the year are determined. At a later meeting with state representatives, allegations were made that IEPs were changed after PPT meetings and services were not being provided. Those allegations were found by the state to be true.
The state Department of Education outlined several areas that required attention and change in its letters of findings as a result of its investigation into the parents' claims.
Several corrective actions already have been completed and submitted to the state, including the implementation of a timely delivery of Individualized Education Plans to parents within five days of the PPT meeting, as per state statute. Verre told the board that the district completed that requirement and submitted evidence that staff was made aware of the state statute by the Oct. 9 deadline. The district was also expected to deliver the most recent IEPs to parents by Oct. 9, which the district also met.
At the Feb. 11 Board of Education meeting, Verre said all of the corrective actions are expected to be completed prior to May 16.
"My sense is that we won't have any difficulty meeting that deadline for the entire collection of guidelines for practice and professional development," Verre said.
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