U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released Differentiated Monitoring and Support (DMS) close-out letters under IDEA Part B for Bureau of Indian Education, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas, and under IDEA Part C for New Jersey, South Carolina, and Texas.
The letters were issued between 2021 and May 2023, however OSEP waited until the last two months to publicly release them on USDOE's website.
They detail years of monitoring, corrective actions required by OSEP, continued noncompliance, the states' status regarding the corrective actions, and additional monitoring. However, in states like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas there are a few caveats.
What is Differentiated Monitoring and Support?
OSEP monitors all IDEA Part B and Part C programs, using an approach specific to each state, based on the state's "unique strengths, progress, challenges, and needs." According to USDOE's website OSEP's differentiated monitoring and support (DMS) does the following:
General supervision encompasses each state’s responsibility to ensure that the state and its subgrantees and contractors meet the requirements of IDEA which includes:
- Improving educational results and functional outcomes for all children with disabilities, and early intervention results and functional outcomes for all infants and toddlers with disabilities; and
- Ensuring that public agencies meet the program requirements under Parts B and C of IDEA, with a particular emphasis on those requirements that are most closely related to improving early intervention results for infants and toddlers with disabilities and educational results for children and youth with disabilities.
As outlined in the DMS Framework, OSEP will examine the state’s policies and procedures and state-level implementation of these policies and procedures regarding the following components of general supervision:
- Monitoring and Improvement
- Data, including the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR)
- Fiscal Management
- Dispute Resolution
In the case of a state like Texas, monitoring continued for years and the state's continued noncompliance resulted in funds being pulled. In a state like Virginia, it has been warned about sanctions if noncompliance continues, however OSEP has yet to pull funding, even though Virginia is tracking a similar timeline to Texas.
A list of actions taken by OSEP is available via its guidance document "DMS 2.0 Framework with Evidence and Intended Outcomes". The document has an easy to follow progression of actions and consequences. If the state has x, then y will occur. If y occurs, then z will occur, and so on.
Bureau of Indian Education
The close-out letter to Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is one example of OSEP waiting over a year before publicly releasing the letter on its website.
October 23, 2019, former OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued a DMS letter to BIA. Two years later, September 8, 2021, former OSEP Acting Director David Cantrell issued a close-out letter and summary chart, stating some of OSEP's findings had been addressed, but others remained open. From the September 8, 2021, letter, it is clear that other letters exist, but have yet to be released.
December 22, 2022, former OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued a DMS letter to Louisiana Department of Education (LDE).
Almost two years later, on January 21, 2022, OSEP Director Valerie Williams issued a close-out letter. The letter does not note the existence of any remaining open issues.
May 14, 2021, OSEP Acting Director David Cantrell issued a DMS letter to North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).
August 3, 2022, OSEP Director Valerie Williams issued a close-out letter. The letters notes continued corrective actions OSEP requires from NCDPI.
November 30, 2018, former OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued a DMS letter to New Jersey Department of Health (NJDH) with a DMS notice and what OSEP termed a fiscal monitoring instrument.
Over four years later, OSEP Director Valerie Williams issued a close-out letter. The letter does not note the existence of any remaining open issues.
December 17, 2017, former OSEP Acting Director Ruth Ryder issued a DMS letter to South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS).
Almost two years later, former OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued another DMS letter to SCDHHS.
September 17, 2020, former OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued a close-out letter. The letter states that no further action is needed. However, it states the following about the state's high-risk status:
OSEP notes that, pursuant to the State’s designation as a “high risk” grantee, as outlined in the Specific Conditions to South Carolina’s IDEA Part C Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2020 grant award, a robust fiscal monitoring system should be part of the full implementation of SCDHHS’ general supervision responsibilities, including monitoring to timely identify and correct noncompliance as required by IDEA sections 635(a)(10) and 640 and 34 C.F.R. §§ 303.120, 303.501 (monitoring), inclusive of SCDHHS’ fiscal oversight responsibilities.
October 19, 2018, former OSEP Acting Director Ruth Ryder issued a DMS letter.
October 19, 2020, former OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued a DMS letter.
October 1, 2021, former OSEP Acting Director David Cantrell issued a letter in response to a TEA submission.
July 1, 2022, OSEP Director Valerie Williams issued a "state special conditions letter".
May 4, 2023, OSEP Director Valerie Williams issued a "close-out letter". The letter notes OSEP's continued requirements from TEA.
October 5, 2020, former OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued a DMS letter to Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).
May 2, 2023, OSEP Director Valerie Williams issued a "close-out letter". The letter does not note the existence of any remaining open issues.