AJE is very excited to share that OSSE has issued a second favorable Letter of Determination (LOD) in response to AJE’s state complaints alleging that DCPS failed to adequately staff self-contained classrooms.
This second state complaint was filed on October 16th alleging that DCPS did not provide students in self-contained classrooms at Payne and Patterson Elementary Schools with appropriately certified teachers. AJE filed an earlier complaint on August 1st alleging that DCPS did not adequately staff self-contained special education classrooms at several of its schools. After filing the August 1st complaint, AJE became aware of classrooms at Payne ES and Patterson ES that were not adequately staffed, but OSSE declined to investigate those schools under the initial complaint. As a result, on October 16th, AJE filed a second, follow-up state complaint about those two schools.
On Friday, December 13th, OSSE issued its Letter of Decision in response to AJE’s complaint about Payne and Patterson Elementary Schools. OSSE’s investigation found that the long-term substitute teachers who worked in several of the self-contained classrooms at Payne and Patterson were not adequately or appropriately certified. OSSE’s LOD stated that –
None of the five (5) long-term substitute teachers hold a current teaching license… None of the long-term substitute teachers in the DHOH classrooms are ASL certified… Therefore, DCPS has not complied with 34 CFR §300.156(a) and 5-A DCMR §1601.1.
OSSE also ordered DCPS to meet with the families of the children who were impacted by DCPS’s failures to staff classrooms adequately to develop compensatory education plans to make up for missed instruction. OSSE also ordered DCPS to take specific steps to improve how they staff self-contained classrooms throughout all of DCPS. Specifically, OSSE’s LOD required that DCPS –
Conduct an audit of all self-contained classrooms to determine if IEP service delivery is systematically impacted by the absence of a special education teacher, and if so, determine the need for compensatory education related to missed services. Review all students with disabilities in all self-contained classrooms over school years 18-19 and 19-20 (to date) to identify instances in a special education teacher did not provide IEP service delivery. In instances where a special education teacher did not provide IEP service delivery, conduct a 100% review of IEPs to determine if missed services are owed, based upon the review and determination of the students’ IEP team. In instances where missed services are owed to the student, develop compensatory education plans and ensure delivery of services in accordance with the compensatory education plan.
AJE is pleased that OSSE is ordering DCPS to audit how all of their self-contained classrooms are staffed and to make sure students in those classrooms receive the education they are legally entitled to. Children in self-contained classrooms have some of the most significant needs served in our local schools and they have a right to access well trained, fully certified special educators, as required by law.
Our blog post about AJE’s initial state complaint is available here, and you can read OSSE’s earlier Letter of Decision (LOD) issued October 1st requiring DCPS to create a DCPS-wide corrective action plan to address how they staff self-contained classrooms here. In that first LOD, DCPS was required to meet with impacted families at these five (5) schools –
- Takoma Education Campus
- Malcolm X Elementary School
- Langley Elementary School
- Hearst Elementary School
- River Terrace Education Campus
to create compensatory education plans to address DCPS’ failure to adequately staff their children’s classrooms. Now that seven (7) schools have been found to have understaffed their special education self-contained classrooms, we are thankful that OSSE has ordered DCPS to look at all the staffing in all of DCPS’ self-contained special education classrooms.
AJE Interview with Advocacy Institute available below and also here