Virginia Department of Education stepping up its monitoring after critical federal report
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 10/29/2020, 6 p.m.
Richmond and other local public school divisions will face more oversight of their special education programs from the Virginia Department of Education.
Notification that VDOE is stepping up its monitoring went out last month and follows a critical federal report issued June 23 that found the state education department failed to respond to parents’ complaints about the services local school divisions provided to their children, failed to monitor local programs and failed to responsibly enforce a federal law governing special education.
Seeking to address those issues, Dr. James F. Lane, state superintendent of public instruction, has advised local school divisions that VDOE will be more on the case as a result of the wake-up call from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs.
In a Sept. 21 memo, Dr. Lane stated school divisions will be cited for noncompliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when VDOE receives reliable information that identifies a problem, either through formal or informal means. VDOE then will require a local school division to create a corrective action plan and show improvement within a year.
The state also plans to conduct more audits to ensure that local school divisions are not falsely reporting 100 percent compliance with federal and state requirements and are not improperly placing students into special education.
School divisions also will be placed on a schedule to conduct self-assessments of compliance with special educa- tion regulations and to provide plans for improvement where compliance is lacking.
VDOE plans to conduct random audits of school divisions that report 100 percent compliance to ensure school divisions are taking the self-assessments seriously.