Dear VDOE: Is it Okay for Compliance Specialist to Show Bias Against Parent and Editorialize Complaint Letter of Findings?

Last week I shared comments from a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) staff member, which appear in a Letter of Findings (LOF) to which she contributed. (See: “Dear VDOE: Is it Okay for Compliance Specialist to Write “I’m Winging It” in Investigation Letter of Findings?“, “Dear VDOE: Is it Okay for Compliance Specialist to Judge, Joke at the Expense of Parent Advocating for Her Child?“, and “Dear VDOE: How Can a Prior Written Notice Be Both “Skimpy” and “Compliant”?“)

Within the same document, there are two more questionable comments made by the complaint specialist—even though state complaints are supposed to be investigated in full, and an unbiased “independent determination” is supposed to be made.

In this example from the same Letter of Findings, the compliance specialist:

1. indicates she’s not sure what to write; and

2. editorializes an action made by a mother advocating for her child.

In the image below, you’ll see a highlighted section and then a section with the comment, “May take this out. Just love the irony.”

You can take a look at the highlighted section. Pretty straightforward stuff.

Let’s talk about the “irony” comment.

This is related to a parent who doesn’t want her child to have electives taken away, in order to take classes the school wants the student to take.

If you live in Fairfax County, Virginia, and have a high schooler, you might be familiar with the class “Strategies for Success”. This seems to be the catch-all class that Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) recommends for students who exhibit anything “organization” related.

Putting the student in this class is easier than having all of his teachers work with him in their individual classes. And, it means there’s one teacher assigned to an entire class, so it is less expensive to provide service hours. Just stick all the kids in that class.

There are some issues, among which is that the class is year long, so the student loses an elective.

Many students don’t want to lose an elective. By the time they reach high school, they look forward to having a class they choose. In addition, students with special education needs often have so much to work on, which means taking away a class that might bring joy could do more harm than good. The kids desperately need at least one slice of happiness during their school days.

For this slice-of-happiness reason, there are parents, such as the one who is related to this complaint, who advocate for their kids to receive services in all of their classes.

It makes more sense, if a child struggles with organization, to have each teacher check in with the student and work with him or her.

Where the irony is in that, I do not know, but a VDOE compliance specialist seems to see it.

Me? I think it makes more sense to reinforce the support all day long, rather than a few days a week—especially in school districts like Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), which operate on an A/B schedule for middle and high school (classes alternating between two days one week and three days the next week.)

Click on image above to zoom in on “irony” comment.

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