During the same meeting in which the Killeen Independent School District touted progress in the special education department — one parent claimed the district “falsified” special education evaluation documents.
Stephanie Moody, of Killeen, has a 5-year-old special education student in the district. She has a neurological condition that hinders her speech, her mother said.
For the last two years, Moody said, she has had multiple battles in her quest to obtain appropriate services for her daughter. In the past six months, she has brought many of these battles before the board during public forum.
Last night, during the Killeen ISD school board meeting, in which the district presented a special education update, Moody addressed the board once again.
“I am one of the parents in the district whose child has been affected by the problems with evaluations,” Moody said. “I see that tonight the district is going to present a PowerPoint presentation telling us all how they have worked diligently to fix these problems and that they have finally reached 100 percent compliancy.”
These ARD meetings are held to give parents and special education staff an opportunity to discuss a special education student’s needs and come to an agreement on services and accommodations.
Moody detailed reasons why she believes the district is exaggerating their compliancy.
“I am coming up here tonight to say that I do not believe this is trustworthy,” she said. “My own personal experience is littered with examples of times that district employees have scheduled (Arrival Review and Dismissal) ARD meetings knowing the parent cannot attend, but scheduled the meeting anyway knowing it will be rescheduled past the point of their compliancy timeline. But since they held the meeting, they can check off that box.”
For more than a year, Moody said she has requested a sensory evaluation for her daughter. Recently, the district completed this evaluation.
But Moody said she had cause for concern while reading the new report. Her daughter’s music teacher, who was listed in the evaluation report had no knowledge of participating in such report.
“I am unsure of how a person uncertified to perform a sensory evaluation could be cited in a report without their knowledge,” Moody said. “I contacted this teacher, only to find out that he had no prior consult of the evaluation and was never contacted about the matter by district officials.
“Just to reiterate, that is falsified information put into a legal document supposedly from a teacher who had no knowledge of the evaluation being in progress,” she said. “This is not what 100 percent compliancy looks like.”
The school district presented a two-hour, PowerPoint presentation with the help of Janice Peronto, new executive director of special education; Jamie Morris, the district’s special education consultant, and Diana Miller, assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum and former interim special education director.
In the presentation, Miller and Morris highlighted the improvements in the district’s special education department.
“You see where we are gaining some strength, and we are getting more consistent in getting that accomplished and working toward our goal,” Miller told the board. “You can see the progress that we’ve made.”
School districts must meet certain state and federally mandated timelines in order to be 100 percent compliant, she said. When a student is identified to need special education services, a full, independent evaluation must be completed to see which services in particular the child should receive.
These evaluations must be conducted within 45 school days of referral, or else that particular evaluation is out of compliance.
Over the last year, Miller said the department has implemented a corrective action plan to get evaluation testing timelines into compliance.
Last night, Miller told the board 97.9 percent of the 517 evaluations, from the 2015-2016 school year, were completed within the proper testing timelines. The previous year, the district is listed as having a 91.2 percent compliance rate for the same evaluations.
“We are not there yet, but you can see we have made progress,” Miller said. “Many of the (full independent evaluations) that are out of compliance are by one or two days. There is nothing that is grossly out of compliance.”
Morris updated the board on the improvements she had witnessed this year — touting operational guidelines, professional development, and additional accountability measures that are in place in the district.
Morris was hired one year ago, after the district was investigation by the state for special education noncompliance issues.
“In this past year we have made great strides,” Morris said. “It’s almost like building a house — you really can’t see how pretty that yard is until you have that foundation built. We are light years ahead of where we were last year.”