Fairfax County Public Schools Provided Recovery Services to Less Than 1% of Students

As of February 2022, less than 1% of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students had been provided recovery services or had “recovery services indicated on their IEP in some form.”

In a February 2022 email, Kelly O’Donnell, Acting Manager, Due Process and Special Education, admitted that only “approximately 1,070 students have received are or [sic] have recovery services indicated on their IEP in some form.”

According to FCPS, it has over 180,000 students and approximately 28,000 have Individualized Education Programs (IEP).

All students—not just those with IEPs—have the right to receive recovery services if they are needed.

Given O’Donnell didn’t say “all” of the approximately 1,070 students received recovery services, that puts the number who have received them at less than 1% of the over 180,000 students enrolled in FCPS.

1% = No Surprise

A year before O’Donnell’s email, I published an article titled “Fairfax County Public Schools Recovery Services: Not Ready, Needing Reminders, and “We Are Not Responsible” Are Repeat Themes” and opened the article as follows:

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) did not have a finalized recovery services in place at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

FCPS stated that it needed to collect nine weeks of data on students in advance of recovery services.

A look at the timeline of events shared below indicates FCPS needed many of those weeks to 1) finalize its plan for addressing recovery services and 2) provide training related to recovery services. 

This is crystal clear in recorded videos of special education-related meetings with principals, special education lead teachers, and special education department chair heads, which took place between 8.10.20 and 2.2.21.

Hence, it comes as no surprise that a year later, FCPS failed to provide recovery services to so many students.

What Happens to the Graduates?

The majority of students who graduated after the 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-2022 school years went without recovery services.

There’s no indication that FCPS will pay private providers to administer needed services to these students, no matter if they went to college, trade school, the military, the work force, or wherever else life took them after high school.

As of the publication of this article, FCPS has refused to provided data in response to requests for data related to its decisions to provide recovery services, its decisions about the type of recovery services to provide, and its decisions to deny recovery services.

Office of Civil Rights Investigation

The United States Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is currently investigating FCPS, with a focus on recovery services. In addition, on July 28, 2022, it opened a separate recovery services-related investigation after a parent filed a complaint with OCR. In its letter announcing its investigation, OCR states it will investigate the following allegation:

The School Division denied the Student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) when it did not make an individualized determination in Spring 2022 about what compensatory services were appropriate for the Student given the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the Student’s receipt of instruction and services.

4 comments on “Fairfax County Public Schools Provided Recovery Services to Less Than 1% of Students

  1. At this rate we r proving that our children rights don’t matter have never mattered and will not be able be treated equally because of their diagnosis and Even though they have rights they to are for nothing !
    I believe once children have been diagnosed they must have a lawyer assigned to them to make sure their right are not violated.

    1. FCPS’s Rights and Responsibilities manual states students have the right to file a complaint, have it investigated, and receive a report on the complaint if a staff member takes an action that is not in the best interest of the student. My understanding is that other school districts afford similar rights to students. It would be interesting to see what would happen if more parents and students requested this right be implemented. With students are minors, parents can file on the behalf of the students.

  2. Thank you for covering this topic. This is a systemic problem that has been pushed under the rug across the state.

    1. It will be interesting to see how long OCR waits to address that less than 1% – or if more students will be graduated out of the system without having their unique needs addressed.

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