The IEP Task Force in Delaware has met five times. The last session was very reminiscent of the second meeting. Both of those meetings were very heavy on the side of the schools and not the parents. The largest matter concern parents receiving a copy of the IEP draft prior to an IEP meeting. There is also the matter of the group’s transparency. Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, the chair of the task force, always had the groups minutes and audio recordings up the next day.
The IEP draft was a hot topic the other night. In prior meetings it had been discussed and most felt it was a good idea for parents to have a copy of the draft before a student’s IEP meeting. But members were acting like it was a bad idea the other night. Mary Ann Mieczkowski, the Director of the Exception Children Resources group at the Delaware Department of Education, said she worries about the legal implications of giving parents a copy of the draft. Like parents don’t know what is a draft and what isn’t. C’mon Mitch, I think parents can recognize what is and isn’t a draft. I even overheard members, including a special education teacher, state parents get ten days after the IEP meeting to sign the document. That is only if they choose to do so and aren’t pressured to sign the IEP right then and there.
There is also the matter of the group’s transparency. Yes, the DOE pushed them out of their prior room and there were problems with the video conference “thingamajigger” as Denn put it, but Denn promised the public full transparency. Here we are four days later, and nothing new is on the website. Has anything happened between the fourth meeting and this one? Something called an election? Denn got the votes, and when asked if he would continue to chair the task force after his inauguration as attorney general, he didn’t answer. Denn already suggested having the group continue after the report to Governor Markell.
The legislators come and go as they please. Some arrive late, some leave early, some don’t even bother to show up. In the beginning, most of them were very vocal during meetings, but now they barely say anything.
I had emailed Denn about including IEP denials as a topic in the next meeting. I received a response from Kim Siegel indicating it would not happen, but the group does want to increase how the state audits IEPs and hold them more accountable. To say I was disappointed is an understatement since I have been pushing for this since day one. But yet things like vocational schools and services for the blind (mainly covered by the Department of Health and Social Services) are topics discussed at length during meetings. What is the point of this task force anymore?
We will all know when the draft of the task force is released to the public what made the cut and what didn’t. I sincerely hope the task force can bring it back yet again to the parents, but more importantly, the student with special needs. They need to remember, as one task force member said, what got them there in the first place. It wasn’t to discuss matters that did not put Delaware in hot water with the Feds and put the state on a “needs intervention” label.