Feds identify ‘significant’ ongoing concerns with Virginia special education
Virginia Ed spokesman says the department will continue working with federal partners
After failing to meet federal requirements to support students with disabilities in 2020, the Virginia Department of Education will remain under further review by the federal government after continuing to fall short in monitoring and responding to complaints against school districts, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Education.
“We have significant new or continued areas of concerns with the State’s implementation of general supervision, dispute resolution, and confidentiality requirements” of IDEA, stated the Feb. 17 letter from the Office of Special Education Programs.
The U.S. Department of Education first flagged its concerns in a June 2020 “Differentiated Monitoring and Support Report” on how Virginia was complying with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, following a 2019 visit by the Office of Special Education Programs.
IDEA, passed in 1975, requires all students with disabilities to receive a “free appropriate public education.”
The Virginia Department of Education disputed some of the federal government’s findings in a June 19, 2020 letter.
Samantha Hollins, assistant superintendent of special education and student services, wrote that verbal complaints “are addressed via technical assistance phone calls to school divisions” and staff members “regularly work to resolve parent concerns” by providing “guidance documentation” and acting as intermediaries between school employees and parents.
However, some parents and advocates say systemic problems in how the state supports families of children with disabilities persist. At the same time, a June 15, 2022 state report found one of Virginia’s most critical teacher shortage areas is in special education.
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