The Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas must submit an action plan to the state after an investigator found the district did not provide the required amount of federally required services for some individual disabled or gifted students earlier this school year.
The problems were for 30 students (2600 students receive special education services and 1050 are identified as gifted in the district).
The violations were due to a shortage of available, trained staff:
“Some of it is the level of expertise that people need to have right now and that’s where the shortages are,” Chatman said. “There is a greater demand than there is a supply for that type of resource. I’m not going to blame it on any one person or any thing.”
The school district and state are both taking the matter seriously.
“The district is pleased that the thorough investigation rejected the complainant’s broad allegations, finding no ‘evidence of systemic actions, policy or practices on the part of the district that were purposefully designed to undermine the ability of school-level professionals to perform their duties.’
“At the district, we work tirelessly to comply with applicable special education requirements. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, circumstances beyond our control interfere. We will work with KSDE to meet the requirements outlined in the investigator’s report, most of which involve individual or a small number of students. In every instance, we strive to provide the best education possible to all students, including students receiving special education services.”
In several cases, Durkin found, more violations did not occur because groups of educators covered scheduling shifts of someone who had vacated a position or formed small groups to ensure that services were provided to kids.
Does your school district have adequate special education staff?