Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Special Education Study

Lorrie Davis is CAC Vice Chair and parent participant in the committee charged with recommending a firm to complete the Special Education Study. We asked her to describe how and why MGT of America was selected.

When I first heard that the Mt. Diablo School District was going to hire a firm to perform a special education study, I was concerned. With all the current budget reductions, I was concerned that the district was looking for a way to validate additional reductions in our special education staff, programs and services. Board members stated parents would be included in the process, so, as a parent of a child receiving special education services, and as a CAC member, I contacted Dr. Mildred Browne and requested to be involved in the selection process.

The committee, comprised of three district employees and two special education parents, developed the RFP (request for proposal), evaluated the proposals, interviewed the consultant firms and checked references. The committee recommended MGT of America because we felt they addressed all of the items listed in the RFP and offered the most comprehensive study. The board of education accepted the recommendation of the committee and approved the contract at the August 25, 2009 board meeting.

To be more specific, MGT of America will accomplish the following:
• Provide a thorough operations analysis of the delivery of all special education services throughout the district including the effective use of resources while providing quality special education and Section 504 services to students with disabilities.
• Identify service delivery options that may be expanded or modified to realize savings and make recommendations that will suggest strategies for re-allocating resources and program development to improve program effectiveness.
• Address the balance between providing a full continuum of services that are required for students with special needs and the financial effects that the disproportionate funding of special education has on the district.
• Review communication practices with parents to determine community satisfaction with all district processes relating to obtaining services for their students.
• Perform an analysis of disproportionate representation of students of color with IEPs and/or 504 Plans in the district as it relates to ethnicity, rates of suspension and expulsion and gender by school.
• Examine instructional practices, policies and district procedures that are in place to help increase academic success.
• Review progress under the Spieler vs Mt. Diablo Unified School District Consent Decree regarding free status of administrative systemic, programmatic and architectonical barriers.
• Review procedures, practices, communication, training and resources to allow staff to provide equitable, high quality, effective special education services to all students with IEPs or 504 plans regardless of the severity or type of disability.

As a parent, I think it is natural to be concerned and wonder how, or if this study will affect the services my child receives. On the other hand, I’m excited to see the recommendations MGT will suggest.

On Monday, October 5, 2009, at 7:00pm in the Mt. Diablo School District Office Board Room, Consultants from MGT of America will be holding a Parent Open Forum meeting. PLEASE attend and express your opinion. PLEASE tell other parents who have children in the district with special needs to attend. The more information the Consultants can gather, the better understanding they will have of the special education program in our district.
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