According to an article in the Delaware News Journal, the Feds have placed Delaware on a watch list as one of three states to need intervention for special ed students. This is what I have been saying all along. Special education in Delaware is severely lacking. Maybe the powers that be will start to wake up!
Updated: The Huffington Post picks up on this story as well: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/24/idea-compliance-2014_n_5524196.html?utm_hp_ref=politics
Updated again: How about timing? When I read this article I was sitting in Governor’s Café in Dover. In the next room, members of the Delaware Department of Education were having a meeting with their summer interns. In fact, the Secretary of Education, Mark Murphy, was walking out as I walked in. The Executive Director for the Board of Education, Donna Johnson, came in late. After I read the article, I spoke to another woman to see if I could speak with Donna Johnson about the News Journal article. She said the person I would want to speak with would be Maryann Mieczkowski, the Director of the Exceptional Children’s Resources at the Delaware DOE. I came home and called her, but she was at lunch. More to be updated later!
Updated again: I have sent the following email to Maryann Mieczkowski at the DOE:
Hi Maryann, I am a parent of a special needs child in Delaware. I have attended state board meetings, written on Kilroy’s, started my own blog, and more. There is a growing group of us in Delaware that have had it with the DOE and special education. AlI roads seem to lead back to you according to everyone I have spoken with at the state. I have several questions for you in regards to special ed. Please let me know when we can meet to discuss these issues. I left you a message earlier today.
Updated at 1:38 PM EST, 6/24/14: Delaware legislature, maybe you can follow up with me on my many ideas for immediate legislation for special education. You still have 3 days left to pass something meaningful for special education children. My ideas can be found here: http://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/epilogue-a-fathers-cry-for-his-son-re-failure-of-a-delaware-charter-school-promise-netde-edude/
Updated at 2:25 PM EST, 6/24/14: No word yet from Mary Ann Mieczkowski or Matthew Albright at the Delaware News Journal. I did talk to House Representative Darryl Scott’s assistant. He said it is too late to get anything introduced with only three days of legislative session. I advised him if they had done something a long time ago, maybe the 147th Assembly wouldn’t be upset about this report that came out today.
Updated at 2:51 PM EST, 6/24/14: Mary Ann emailed back and she wants to meet. Trying to figure out schedules. In the meantime, you can find out how your state did in the federal IDEA report here: http://specialchildren.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=specialchildren&cdn=parenting&tm=11&f=00&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=65&bt=8&bts=8&zu=http%3A//www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/06/24/most-deficient-special-ed/19466/
Updated at 5:55 PM EST, 6/24/14: Scheduled an appointment with Maryann for next week. In the meantime, Delaware media and national education media is jumping all over this story. From WDEL: http://wdel.com/story.php?id=60459 Education Week: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2014/06/ed_dept_releases_results_of_ne.html
Updated at 6:15 PM EST, 6/24/14: from the US Department of Education website: State Graphic Fact Sheet: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/2014-chart-1-7.pdf
2014 IDEA determination fact sheet: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/ideafactsheet-determinations-2014.pdf
How OSEP made determinations for Part B: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partbspap/2014/2014_part_b_htdmd.pdf
How OSEP made determinations for Part C: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partcspap/2014/2014_part%20c_htdmd.pdf
How OSEP Made Determinations under Section 616(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B in 2014: Entities with Determinations Based on Compliance: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partbspap/2014/2014%20htdmd-part-b-entities.pdf
2014 Letter to Delaware Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy from OSEP: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partbspap/2014/de-acc-aprltr-2014b.pdf
This report made a big deal about 39 of the states meeting last year, but Delaware was not one of them based on their 2013 OSEP letter to Mark Murphy: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partbspap/2013/de-aprltr-2013b.pdf
So they had a year to get it right, and they still couldn’t.
Updated at 10:57PM, 6/24/14: Claudio Sanchez at nprED doesn’t think we should trust Arne Duncan and the folks in DC. It’s always been hard for me to trust a Secretary Of Education with little or no educational experience. But this link tells us why: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/06/24/325229848/a-major-shift-in-oversight-of-special-education/
Delawareliberal.net is getting in on it too, and Steve Newton’s comments are spot on: http://www.delawareliberal.net/2014/06/24/delawares-special-education-program-needs-intervention/
So my question now is, what happens next? Say Delaware keeps ignoring the federal demands and they strip away Delaware’s IDEA funding. What happens to all the special needs kids in Delaware? Yes, it is only 60% of the funding for special education, but that’s a lot of money. Would things like Capital School District’s DAP program be able to survive losing that money?
And what changes will the Delaware DOE make? Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has been quiet on the subject all day. He sure seemed happy when I saw him coming out of Governor’s Café this morning. And the letter to him from the Feds was from yesterday. Should Murphy be fired? Two years in a row of basically failing in special education, and you are the Secretary of Education. Please, if you don’t get fired, just quit. Delaware deserves better than you. Meanwhile, I still don’t see the audio recording of the last board meeting which went over the IDEA Annual Performance Report. I missed the meeting, and I’m kicking myself now!
This is why things like House Bill 23 need to be passed, so we can all know what is being said at School Board meetings. I’m not worried about the ones that already do it. It’s the ones that aren’t. The ones with lots of money going out but the students aren’t seeing it.
Updated at 11:56PM, 6/24/14: All the links for the US DOE website appear to be working now. I would also check out the Delawareonline comments section on Facebook. Lots of special ed parents are raising hell.
Updated at 8:55AM, 6/25/14: The New York Times is getting in on the action: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/25/us/shift-in-law-on-disability-and-students-shows-lapses.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
And The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/states-special-education-services-face-tighter-oversight-by-the-obama-administration/2014/06/23/a103031e-fb36-11e3-b1f4-8e77c632c07b_story.html
And Kilroy looks at some Delaware political ties to this subject: http://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/delaware-rep-lavelle-might-want-to-save-some-finger-pointing-for-rep-hudson-re-special-ed-report/
And lo and behold, the Delaware DOE has put up the audio recording from their Board of Education meeting on 6/19/14. The audio recording you want to listen to is Part 4 6/19/14 going over the IDEA Annual Performance Report, starring our very own Mary Ann Mieczkowski.
Updated at 2:05PM, 6/25/14: An interesting link to WDDE 91.1FM about this debacle- http://www.wdde.org/63945-federal-report-delaware-special-education-intervention
The original Delaware News Journal article by Matthew Albright seems to have more information: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2014/06/24/feds-del-needs-intervention-special-ed/11305993/
I’ve searched for any word from Mark Murphy on all of this but have found none. In the meantime, many parents are wondering why the Feds discontinued the old compliance monitoring where they would go into schools to audit special education department’s IEPs to make sure they were compliant. This stopped in 2012, and Delaware has gone dramatically downhill in special education since then. In 2010, the Exceptional Children branch of the DOE announced all schools in Delaware would be audited every three years. Where are those audit reports? Are they even being done? It sounds like the DOE needs to drum up some reports to the public very fast, or parents are going to start filing FOIA requests left and right. I may be first in line. Someone needs to come up with an official statement immediately.
By viewing comments people have left on this matter on Facebook and Twitter and other articles, it sounds like the vast majority of Delaware parents of special needs children have had many problems with our schools. I can attest to that based on the many problems I had with “that charter school in the County of Kent”.
I would advise every single parent in Delaware to look at the Board minutes of each charter school, public school district, or vocational school to see what is being said during Board meetings. Look at their financial statements. Look at Delaware Online Checkbook. See where the money is going to. Make sure everyone at the schools your child attends is certified. This can be done through the DEEDS website at the Delaware DOE. Just be sure to know exactly how the first and last name is spelled or it won’t give you any information. Here is a link: https://deeds.doe.k12.de.us/public/deeds_pc_findeducator.aspx
And where do teachers factor into all of this? I think they are fed up as well. Between Common Core being force-fed to them, all the high risk testing, and special education requirements changing constantly, we run the risk of losing good teachers. And that will mean more bad teachers, or teachers that are too new to know what is best. Delaware needs radical change, and we need it now. The General Assembly can’t do anything. They have two days left of legislative sessions, and a lot of them are up for reelection. The head of the education committee for the House of Representatives in Delaware is not running for reelection, so nobody knows who will fill that slot. The 148th General Assembly won’t meet in session again until January 2015. The DOE is running around with their cheerleader uniforms on praying and hoping Smarter Balanced testing goes smoothly. And how about our own Governor Jack Markell, not saying a word about this? He didn’t even respond to my twitter question about this matter. He did respond to the News Journal in saying money was allocated in next year’s budget for a full Special Education annual review. But how about more Jack? Who is accountable for this educational mess?