Saturday, July 28, 2012

MDUSD transportation plans revealed

By Theresa Harrington

After raising questions about the Mt. Diablo school district’s plans for special education and transportation, I received two documents today — one from a parent and one from Superintendent Steven Lawrence.

Here is a letter sent to many special education parents regarding transportation plans:

“June 20, 2012
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Please read this entire letter as it contains important information regarding changes for students who are eligible for transportation as a related service as part oftheir Individual Education Plan {lEP). All changes will commence during the 2012/2013 school year. The Mt. Diablo Unified School District (“District”) strives to provide quality educational programs in challenging fiscal times. As such, the District recently participated in a Financial Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) study to assist with identifying more effective and efficient means to proVide special education transportation.

The study revealed that we are significantly overidentifying transportation as a related service for special education students. For example, the District currently provides transportation to 26% of our students with an IEP; however, in most districts reviewed by FCMAT the average was approximately 10%. The FCMAT team found that the District has an inordinately high number of parents who receive reimbursement in lieu of transpol1ation services. One similarly sized district has only two (2) parents who are paid in lieu whlle we reimburse one hundred forty-four (144) parents. In response to the FCMAT findings and recommendations, the District is modifying speciial education transportation services as follows.

Parent Reimbursements. Effective immediately transportation reimbursements will only be offered when the District is unable to transport the student. Current parent reimbursement arrangements will be honored through extended school year 2012. Any new reimbursement requests require priorapproval from Angie Goakey, Transportation Supervisor.

Home School. Beginning August 26, 2012, students who receive special education services at their home school will not receive transportation unless the IEP team determines that a student’s unique needs require transportation
Cluster Model. Beginning on Monday, January 7, 2013, the District will transition to a School to School (Cluster) Transportation mode. Unless otherwise noted in a student’s IEP, all transportation for students with IEPs will be from school of residence to school of placement. High school students who live in the Bay Point area will have a cluster point (bus pick-up/drop-off location) at Riverview Middle School. Middle school students who reside in the former Glenbrook Middle School attendance area will have a cluster point at the Glenbrook site.
Transportation as a related service will be reviewed with you prior to January 2013. Any specialized transportation needs will be determined by the students IEP team and documented in an IEP. Students who are medically fragile or pose significant safety concerns to themselves or others will continue to be eligible for door to door transportation. Transportation services will be reviewed at your student’s annuallEP meeting, or earlier, if needed.

We understand these changes impact your child. It is our desire to work with families during this transition. To help with the transition and answer questions the district will be offering the following:
o Parent informational meeting(s) in September 2012 (dates and location to be announced)
o Website with information regarding transportation changes and frequently asked questions
o An email address available for sending specific questions regarding transportation
For assistance during the summer break please contact: Carolyn Patton, Administrator, Special Education, (925) 682-8000, Ext. 4187; or Angie Goakey, Transportation Supervisor, (925) 682-8000, Ext. 3709.
Mildred D. Browne, Ed. D., Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services and Special Ed-ucation
Greg Rolen, General Counsel”

The above document appears to be the letter referenced by Carolyn Patton on June 25 when she told the board about the FCMAT findings:
However, Patton said the draft letter was from herself and Rolen. Instead, the final letter sent out was signed by Mildred Browne and Rolen.

I also received the following email from Lawrence:
I needed to check with Carolyn and I believe this is the letter you are referring to. It is a (sic) exit letter of the FCMAT audit.”

But the attachment he sent was not a letter. Instead, it was a draft Transportation Review from FCMAT (Fiscal Crisis & Management Team):

This report is dated July 18. That is one day BEFORE Lawrence sent me the email below, dated June 19, in response to my email asking for the FCMAT report and letter mentioned at the board meeting:
“That’s interesting because I have not received a draft or final report from FCMAT. I will have to check with Board members to determine where the reports they have received came from because to my knowledge no one at the district has received copies of the draft or final reports.”

So, it appears that Lawrence may have inadvertently attached the report that he previously claimed no one had received. It’s still unclear what document Patton was referencing when she told the board in June: “In response to the FCMAT report, we have already seen the preliminary findings….” She also said, “As I think you have all seen, the FCMAT study identified….”

Read more of Theresa Harrington's On Assignment article HERE.
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