Beth Huck presents ideas

School Board member Beth Huck (At-Large) presents some of her group's ideas after a break-out session at the Aug. 16 Ad Hoc Special Education Committee meeting.

The Loudoun County School Board’s Ad Hoc Committee for Special Education presented its final report and recommendations during Tuesday’s board meeting.

The 19-person committee, chaired by School Board member Beth Huck (At-Large), was formed in June 2018 in response to concerns regarding Loudoun County Public Schools’ policies, practices and procedures relating to special education services. It met regularly during the past year to identify areas of common interest to form recommendations for special education practices.

“We had an amazing group of people who served on this committee,” Huck said. “Considering how large our group was, we had a very high level of participation.”

Other committee members included School Board members Chris Croll (Catoctin District) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian District), LCPS employees, parents from the special needs community and representatives of the Gifted Advisory Committee, the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee and the Special Education Advisory Committee.

The 18-page report presents 17 recommendations based on themes of communication, consistency and community engagement. Recommendations include increased publicity and access to Parent Resource Services for parents of students with disabilities, notably those whose first language is not English; expanded training for special education teachers and substitute teachers; and developing a staffing standard to hire special education deans at the middle school and elementary school levels.

The committee voted its approval of most of the recommendations with an overwhelming majority — all but two unanimously, though three committee members were absent for the final vote.

The tightest vote in the report was over Recommendation 3: that LCPS consider hiring a neutral ombudsman — an official tasked with investigating complaints against school administration involving special education — within the next 12 months. It was eventually approved with a 9-7 vote.

The report is supplemented by five appendices, including the LCPS Policy 5345 and Regulation 5345, which address the appropriate use of seclusion and restraint tactics in the classroom, a subject that gained widespread attention last year after the Times-Mirror released a photograph of a student with special needs inside a makeshift seclusion chamber in her classroom at Belmont Ridge Middle School.

Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles District) praised the committee’s efforts, particularly lauding the timely nature of the report.

“It’s great that we’re having this discussion now in June, because that means that we can certainly attach recommendations to the budget and get that forwarded for the next operating year,” he said. “The product you put out is wonderful. It gives us a great road map on the issues of concern to the special education community.”

(13) comments

BobOhneiserEsq

Instead of responding to what seems like every issue by hiring more unaccountable executives why don't the school board members demand EVERY complaint be investigated, reported and tracked for personnel accountability. Isn't the extra $10,000 awarded under the new budget per member enough to do some LCPS related work?

lococpa

We need a special committee for the majority of students that are falling through the cracks that do not have special needs, because teachers and administrators are so distracted and pulled in so many directions by each and every special need child. Special needs get special attention and the rest of the children receiving minimal attention. This is not the formula for exceptional graduates.

RandomName2019

This is simply not true. Most general education students in Loudoun receive remarkably strong educations and our school system as a whole scores very high. While special education students generally require more resources, they contribute equally to Loudoun's successes. Perhaps those students you speak of who are falling through the cracks just aren't academically capable.

NvolvedParent

Lococpa Can you say with certainty that students that are falling through the cracks don’t already have an individual education plan (IEP) in place and if they don’t, why not? Or are you saying that LCPS should ignore Federal and Virginia state laws concerning education? Doing either of these is not the formula for exceptional graduates either.

jke

More bloat!

NvolvedParent

All this hoopla and mutual patting each other on the back looks good on paper. It will have little no real effects on the educational needs of the students because there are no benchmarks to prove they are ready to function in the post-graduation reality of the rest of their lives. There are no material post graduate day programs for large sections of the adult special needs’ community in Loudoun County and LCPS really doesn’t care about who they graduate out of school once they have put on the cap and gown.

RandomName2019

The larger issue is that LCPS as a whole has difficulty understanding the laws that they are bound by and pay nominal lip service to following those they do understand.

DavisB

wait - are you wanting the public schools to offer continuing support for SPED kids after they leave the schools? Non-SPED kids don't get these services!!

NvolvedParent

DavisB Non-SPED kids can make better than minimum wage, SPED kids don’t Non-SPED kid can vote, own property, have liquid assets, purchase a gun. SPED kids can’t if their parents are required to become legal guardians for them after they turn 21 SPED kid are required to have state services after they graduate from school. Virginia is so incompetent in doing so the state lost a Supreme Court ruling because of it So what specific services are you complaining about for Non-SPED kids and if you think they deserve them, why don’t you go down to Richmond or DC and get them for the Non-SPED kids?

DavisB

Nvolved - not sure what you are going on about but I would not expect the schools to offer support to anyone after they leave the schools - let the school focus on the students they have, not the ones they don't have

NvolvedParent

DavisB – Your comments have already proven that you really have no understanding on what is going on with the special needs students in LCPS or that LCPS doesn’t even try to focus on a majority of the students it TRYS to educate. It just tosses them all out to the curb like yesterday’s trash.

DavisB

Nvolved - I simply don't understand your desire to redirect limited resources from SPED students in schools to SPED students who have finished with school. At some point, students who age out of public schools must look elsewhere for support.

NvolvedParent

Obviously reading for comprehension has fallen by the wayside once you graduated. Here is the sentence in my post a week ago that you continue to ignore : after they turn 21 SPED kid are required to have state services after they graduate from school Not LCPS, Virginia STATE services.

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