U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights FOIA Responses

USDOE OIG ARP ESSER Plans and Spending Report for Washington State

Washington Failed to Provide Adequate Oversight of ARP ESSER Plans and Spending; U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Inspector General Releases Investigation Findings

U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Inspector General (OIG) found Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (WOSPI) failed to have an adequate oversight process in place to ensure that 1) local educational agencies’ (LEA) American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) plans met applicable requirements and 2) LEAs use ARP ESSER funds in accordance with applicable requirements and their approved LEA ARP ESSER plans.

UPDATE: VDOE Opens Systemic Complaint on FCPS: Denial of FAPE to Preschool, Honors, Foreign Language, and Day School Students

June 1, 2023: Article first published.

July 13, 2023: Article updated to include additional information Complainant submitted to VDOE; FCPS’s response to Complaint’s state complaint; and the timeline extension letter VDOE issued itself July 10, 2023, one day before VDOE’s Letter of Findings was due. VDOE set September 15, 2023, as the new due date.

September 18, 2023: Article updated to include VDOE’s second timeline extension letter, in which it changed its timeline from September 15 to October 31, 2023, as well as additional evidence provided to FCPS by Complainant.

May 23, 2023, Virginia Department of Education opened another systemic complaint investigation into Fairfax County Public Schools, in response to a complaint filed May 12, 2023.

The complaint alleges FCPS is at fault for systemic failures to provide FAPE, to include but not limited to failure to address the unique academic, behavioral and functional needs of its students; failures to appropriately place students; and failures to provide services to students who elect to enroll in Honors classes.

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The Language of IEPs and 504s: Ban “As Needed”

If “as needed” appears on any IEP or 504 plan put in front of you, request that the words be removed.

If you’re advised “that’s how we do it”, ask for documentation citing this to be true, and pull out IDEA or Section 504, and point out “as needed” doesn’t appear in either.

A child doesn’t need an IEP plan or a 504 plan as needed.

Children need everything in their IEPs or 504s period.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Updated Policy Guidance to Ensure Access to Rights Guaranteed to Children Under IDEA

uly 24, 2023, U.S. Dept. of Education’s (USDOE) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released updated policy guidance “to ensure and strengthen the rights and protections guaranteed to children with disabilities and their families under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” The guidance took immediate effect upon release.

According to OSEP, “The guidance and accompanying Dear Colleague Letter address the IDEA’s “general supervision” requirement, which necessitates states monitor local educational agencies (LEAs) as required by IDEA Part B, and early intervention service (EIS) programs and providers as required by IDEA Part C to ensure children with disabilities and their families access their rights under IDEA.”

This guidance is significant in that it focuses on general supervisory responsibilities. Refusing to address noncompliance outside the typical dispute resolution channels of mediation, state complaints, and/or due process hearings, has long been a problem for states like Virginia, as one example.

Virginia Department of Education Halts State Complaints Because Parents Used Google Drive

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) halted state complaints filed by parents in Chesterfield and Page Counties because the parents used Google Drive to submit their evidence.

In a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) dated June 28, 2023, VDOE initial advised the Page County parent:

“While the email indicates that Parent properly attached a sufficient state complaint, the Commonwealth of Virginia no longer partners with Google and cannot access/open any Google documents. Please resubmit the complaint to our office using another format such as OneDrive, which is supported by Microsoft Office. . . . This office cannot move forward to investigate Parent’s concerns until the above-noted deficiencies are addressed. If appropriate, the complaint may be resubmitted to this office for action. All resubmitted complaints will be treated as new complaints and are subject to review.”

State complaints have a one-year statute of limitations. According to the parent, having to refile would put his complaint outside the one-year timeline, which means it would be denied as time barred upon resubmission—just because VDOE refused to access Google Drive.

Fairfax County Public Schools “Expert” Determines Lindamood Bell Not Appropriate for Student with Dyslexia, Because Lindamood Bell’s Site Has Pictures of Young Children On It

Virginia Hearing Officer Rhonda Mitchell determined the program Lindamood Bell is not appropriate for a student who has Dyslexia, after Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) “experts” made curious statements about the instruction and Lindamood Bell’s site and staff.

Jugnu Agrawal, program manager of FCPS’s special education curriculum, and one of the FCPS “experts” who testified in front of HO Mitchell, said Lindamood Bell isn’t appropriate because, “if you go and look at the pictures on their website and everything, it is specifically for elementary.”