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VDOE state complaint tracking logs

Updated 11.21.23—FOIA: Virginia Department of Education State Complaint Tracking Logs, 2014-2023

November 8, 2023, I included a request for volunteers in the article below. I’d like to thank the volunteer who helped pull together the data provided by VDOE, for 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18.
The link to the spreadsheets pulled together by the volunteer is being added here, with the understanding that the data needs doublechecking, as well as more slicing and dicing to identify trends. Help still is needed. If you’re interested in helping, please let me know.

September 2023, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) released a report of its in-depth look at state complaints. Its findings aren’t surprising. Parents who believe their local education agency (LEA) to be in noncompliance with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), can seek remedies under IDEA’s dispute resolution processes. However, those processes—such as filing state complaints—are stacked against parents. VDOE’s state complaint tracking logs provide a portrait of a state heavy on dismissals and findings in favor of LEAs.

UPDATED 11.20.23—VDOE FOIA Response: Independent Evaluations of Virginia Department of Education’s Special Education Program

*Thank you to the three parents who submitted FOIA requests for this information and shared it with Special Education Action. 10.8.23: Article first published.
11.20.23: Article updated to include original report submitted by Dr. Robert Pasternack to Dr. Lisa Coons, as well as emails between Robert and Lisa regarding the first final report, and invoices related to both reports.
Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released two independent evaluations of its special education program. The evaluations were done by Dr. Robert Pasternack, Sam Howarth, and Nathan Levenson at the request of Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Lisa Coons. The findings aren’t a surprise. In Virginia, educators and families are two ends of the same burning match—and VDOE fuels the fire. Rather than being the “North Star” guiding educators and bridging the gap between families and educators, VDOE’s actions and inactions continue to increase the divide.

UPDATED 11.20.23—FERPA Violation Report Card: Fairfax County Public Schools

This article was updated November 20, 2023, to include more FERPA violations. FCPS has been breaching the privacy of staff and students for years. This article details FCPS FERPA violations between 2017 and 2023. It includes breaches FCPS inadvertently provided to me, breaches related to my own family (and about which I filed state complaints), breaches other FCPS families shared with me, as well as the ransomware attack of FCPS that occurred in 2020.

FCPS Knew Reading Program Wasn’t Intensive Enough for Students Who Have Dyslexia, Proposed it Anyway

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) knew that a program it proposed for years division wide, for students who have Dyslexia, is not intensive enough for students who have Dyslexia. Yet, even though parent after parent expressed concerns about their students not progressing and/or about the appropriateness of the program—and at least two went so far as to file for due process—FCPS continued to propose it. September 1, 2020, FCPS’ long-time lawyer John Cafferky emailed the following to FCPS staff, regarding an upcoming due process hearing for a student who has Dyslexia:

Helpful Information from FCPS Lawyer John Cafferky, which You Won’t Find in VDOE’s “Parents’ Guide to Special Education Dispute Resolution”

In 2008, Virginia Department of Education issued “2008 Parents’ Guide to Special Education Dispute Resolution.” Although a lot’s changed in the past 15 years, the guide “designed to assist parents in understanding Virginia’s dispute resolution systems of mediation, complaints, and due process hearings” has remained the same.
The following is helpful information that I hope VDOE considers should it revise the guide. It comes from advice that long-time Fairfax County Public Schools lawyer John Cafferky provided to FCPS staff. In its 2008 guide, VDOE acknowledged John on a list of individuals who “contributed to the development of this document and/or who served as a reviewer.” Hence, it seems fitting that the following advice be considered for a future edition.

How to File a Privacy Violation Complaint

Imagine your school or someone in the school division violates the privacy of your child. 

Can you file a complaint? If yes, how? Parents and/or students who believe a student’s privacy has been violated under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), have a right to file a complaint. FERPA applies to all students. However, students who have IEPs have additional protection under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Let’s explore both below.

2008 IEE Noncompliance Finding

Updated 11.1.23—16 Years of Independent Educational Evaluation Noncompliance: Virginia Department of Education Fails Students and to Perform Its General Supervisory Duties

11.1.23: Article updated to include FCPS staff’s internal emails about how they made a decision to deny payment of an IEE in full at public expense. (See Lowballing Rates section below.) For at least sixteen years, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) failed to ensure compliance with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and implementing Virginia regulations.

In 2007, FCPS refused to fund Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE) at public expense and refused to file due process to defend its refusals to fully fund IEEs at public expense. An FCPS parent filed a state complaint and, in 2008, VDOE found FCPS at fault for failure to comply with IDEA and implementing Virginia regulations regarding IEEs.

During the 16 years that followed the 2007 complaint filing, the same noncompliance continued in FCPS and other Virginia local education agencies (LEAs).

What’s New in Fairfax County Public Schools? Legal Invoices, Court Cases, Noncompliance, Closed Meeting Minutes, Toxic Emails, and the Failure to Secure the Privacy of 35,000+ Students

What’s New in Fairfax County Public Schools? Legal Invoices, Court Cases, Noncompliance, Closed Meeting Minutes, Toxic Emails, and the Failure to Secure the Privacy of 35,000+ Students Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) included unredacted records for over 35,000 students within…
Writing Goals: "The Problem with Measured Quarterly"

Writing Goals: The Problem with “Measured Quarterly”

Quarterly measurements invite skewed and misleading data. Imagine the following goal is being proposed for your student: “Given content-area vocabulary (English, History, Science, Math), STUDENT will earn 85% accuracy on 3 out of 4 vocabulary assessments per quarter.” In the case of vocabulary, students are provided content-area vocabulary on a daily basis. Depending on the type of assessment (more on this below), the student could be assessed on vocabulary once-to-a-few times a week during each grading quarter. Which assessments count toward the goal? The first four consecutively administered assessments? The last four consecutively administered assessments? Four randomly chosen assessments administered throughout the grading quarter? Four cherry-picked assessments administered throughout the grading quarter?
VDOE CSEA Fairfax County Public Schools Review Summary Report

VDOE FOIA Response: VDOE 2022 Monitoring of FCPS

June 22, 2023, the following FOIA request was submitted to Virginia Department of Education: “Please provide me VDOE’s Summary Report of the Review of the Provision of Special Education in FCPS.” June 30, 2023, VDOE responded by providing the report below. In a separate FOIA response, VDOE provided the data collection spreadsheets associated with the report.

FCPS FOIA Response: How FCPS Ascertains the Prevailing rate for IEE Assessments and Written Guidelines for Independent Education Evaluations

In 2019, a Fairfax County Public Schools parent submitted a FOIA request for “Information on how FCPS ascertained the prevailing rate for IEE assessments within the Washington DC metro area as written on your Guidelines for Independent Education Evaluations.”

U.S. Department of Education Emergency Guidance, Plans, and Training

Documents, videos, and other assets created by the U.S. Department of Education’s various agencies, collected in an effort to ensure they’re available for future learning—and to ensure we don’t forget best practices created and mistakes already made.