My Son

My Son

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Press Releases Stating How Missouri Schools Are Doing

Following article from 8/20/09 Parent Newsletter from Janice Phelan, LSR-7 Media Specialist:

Continuing tradition of academic success

R-7 School District students scored above the state average in all grade levels in math, communication arts and science on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests this year. R-7 students take the math, communication arts and science MAP tests each spring, and the 2009 results were released by the state in early August.

The students' average scores are based on the percentage of students scoring in the top two achievement levels. The 2009 MAP test results continue a tradition of R-7 School District student success. The local district has won Missouri's Distinction in Performance Award, the state's highest recognition for academic achievement, for the past eight years. The R-7 School District is also among just a handful of districts in the state to earn a perfect score on criteria for this award each year for the last eight years.

Here are other publications on the same information:

School Districts Meet State-wide Standard for Excellence
by Megan Ryder
Contact: Jonathan Steffens
Phone: 573-882-7896

31 School Districts Honored as Recipients of Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) “Distinction in Performance” Award
The University of Missouri’s College of Education and Heart of Missouri Regional Professional Development Center recognized 31 Missouri school districts at mid-Missouri’s annual DESE Awards Banquet in Columbia. Earning “Distinction in Performance” requires a school district to perform at a high level or make steady progress in all areas of academic achievement.

During the 2006-2007 academic year, 294 of 540 total Missouri school districts qualified for this prestigious recognition, which is sponsored by DESE. The “Distinction in Performance” award criterion is based on the 14 academic performance standards used in the accreditation of K-12 school districts. K-8 districts use a portion of these standards. These standards are measured by the Missouri Assessment Plan tests, graduation rate, attendance and ACT scores.

“I commend Missouri educators and students for their hard work and progress. By maintaining a strong focus on achievement and accountability in all schools, we can help all students have a brighter future,” Gov. Matt Blunt says.

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have this opportunity to recognize the outstanding academic performance and the progress made by 294 Missouri school districts — an increase of 59 from last year — who are being singled out tonight for excellence,” Brady Deaton, chancellor of the University of Missouri said. (This equals 54% of all schools.)

Chancellor Deaton continued with: “It is fitting that Missouri’s flagship university and our College of Education today join Governor Blunt and DESE officials in recognizing the high caliber of education in Missouri’s schools. Quality education systems are of paramount importance to all of us. Today, we recognize the superb efforts of many in attaining the high level of achievement required to earn this prestigious honor.”

To qualify for the award, K-8 districts must meet 6 of 7 performance standards, including all of those based on the results of MAP tests. K-12 districts must meet 13 out of 14 standards, including all of the MAP-based measures.

The following Missouri school districts were recognized for their “Distinction in Performance” at the University of Missouri:

• Blair Oaks R-II,
• Boncl R-X,
• Brunswick R-II,
• Camdenton R-III,
• Centralia R-VI,
• Cole Co. R-I,
• Cole Co. R-V,
• Columbia 93,
• Cooper Co. R-IV,
• Elsberry R-II,
• Fayette R-III,
• Fulton 58,
• Gasconade Co. R-I,
• High Point R-III,
• Holliday C-2,
• Jefferson City,
• Moberly,
• Moniteau Co. R-I,
• Montgomery Co. R-II,
• North Callaway Co. R-I,
• Osage Co. R-I,
• Osage Co. R-II,
• Otterville R-VI,
• Salisbury R-IV,
• School of the Osage R-II,
• South Callaway Co. R-II,
• Southern Boone Co. R-I,
• St. Elizabeth R-IV,
• Tipton R-VI,
• Wellsville Middletown R-I and
• Westran R-I.

“I commend all Missouri school districts for the work they do day in and day out. Ultimately, we hope each school district qualifies for this award, as educating the next generation is our most important task at hand,” says Carolyn Herrington, dean of MU’s College of Education. “I am proud of the College of Education’s association with DESE in presenting the Distinction in Performance Awards and want to congratulate each of you for your hard work and recognition.”

The “Distinction in Performance” award winners were officially announced by DESE in December 2007.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District earns state’s
Distinction in Performance Award for eighth year in a row
Local district has “perfect 100” score on award criteria

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District was one of just 13 metropolitan-area school districts to earn Missouri’s coveted Distinction in Performance Award this year, according to a Dec. 12 announcement from state education officials. The award honors districts for academic achievement and progress during the 2007-08 school year.

This is the eighth year in a row that the R-7 School District has received the Distinction in Performance Award, which has been offered by the state for just eight years.

"This award is a reflection of the value our community places on its quality school system," said Dr. David McGehee, R-7 School District superintendent. "We are grateful to everyone who contributes to our schools' and our students' success, including our outstanding staff, involved families and supportive community."

The Lee's Summit R-7 School District is one of just a handful of Missouri public school districts to have earned the Distinction in Performance Award with a perfect score for all eight years.

The award comes on the heels of several other noteworthy honors for the school district and community. Last summer, Money magazine named Lee's Summit R-7 schools as seventh best in the nation in its annual "Best Places to Live" issue focusing on the nation's top 100 small cities. Lee's Summit was featured during November in BusinessWeek magazine as Missouri's "best affordable town for raising children." Most important factors in this analysis were school performance, affordability and safety.

A total of 330 Missouri districts will receive the Distinction in Performance award, based on criteria set by the State Board of Education. The annual recognition is based on school districts’ performance on Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test scores, ACT college-entrance test scores, attendance and dropout rates and other measures of academic performance during the 2007-08 school year. (This equals to 61% of all schools.)

To qualify for the recognition this year, K-12 districts had to meet 13 of 14 standards, including all of the standards that are based on Missouri Assessment Program test scores. The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District met and exceeded this goal, meeting 14 of the 14 standards and scoring a perfect 100 points for the eighth consecutive year.

Under the state’s accreditation process, school districts are formally evaluated once every five years, according to State Board of Education standards. The Distinction in Performance award is based on the same performance criteria that are included in the accreditation review process, but the award provides an annual confirmation and recognition of a district's consistent performance.

The Distinction in Performance Award is intended to provide an incentive for districts to focus on continuously improving academic achievement in all of the areas covered by the accreditation standards.

State education officials will formally recognize each of the award-winning school districts later this school year.

(Posted-December 12, 2008)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fewer Missouri Schools Meet AYP

State Officials Pleased with Steady Gains on MAP Tests

End-of-course Tests Debut; Fewer Schools Meet AYP Targets.

State education officials say they are pleased with new “end-of-course tests” in English, biology and algebra that will be used to measure the academic progress of Missouri high school students.

Results from the new end-of-course (EOC) exams were released today by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education along with its annual report of Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test results for all public schools in Missouri.

In grades 3-8, students posted small to moderate gains in math and English at every level except one (grade 6 math), continuing the trend of slow but steady improvement in the academic performance of elementary-grade students.

That growth, however, is not sufficient to help schools meet the rising standards of “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) as required by federal law. As a result, the number of schools in the state that did not meet AYP targets this year increased again. (See chart.)

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro said that she favored the transition to end-of-course tests and believes the new exams will be beneficial to students and schools.

“The first year of testing with the EOC program went smoothly. These tests will provide increased accountability for students and valuable information for schools to support instructional improvement,” Dr. Nicastro said.

About 63,000 students took each of the new EOC exams during 2008-09. The statewide results are:

• English II – 72.6% of student scored proficient or advanced
• Algebra I – 52.7% of students scored proficient or advanced
• Biology – 55.1% of students scored proficient or advanced

With EOC exams, students take the test over the specific course content at the end of the class. In the past, all students took a math test in tenth grade and a communication arts test in eleventh grade.

The EOC exams also are intended to increase students’ motivation to perform well on the tests. A portion of each student’s final course grade is now based on the results of the EOC exam. In the past, there were no consequences for students if they scored poorly on a MAP test.

Adequate Yearly Progress

About two-thirds of all school buildings in Missouri did not meet federal AYP targets this year, compared to about 58% in 2008.

“Adequate Yearly Progress is just one piece of a much-larger picture that displays how well our students are doing,” Nicastro said. “We have seen gains in our state test scores and progress in closing achievement gaps between groups of students. Factors such as formative assessments, student and parent engagement, attendance rates, and graduation rates are all part of the picture when looking at student achievement,” she said.

Here is a breakdown of districts and schools meeting AYP in 2009:

Title I Schools in “School Improvement”
Total Number of Public Schools 2,210
Total Number of Title I Schools 1,165
Title I Schools in School Improvement: 350
School Improvement Level 1 198
School Improvement Level 1, Delayed 39
School Improvement Level 2 100
School Improvement Level 2, Delayed 13
Title I Schools in Corrective Action: 70
School Improvement Level 3, Corrective Action Year 1 69
School Improvement Level 3, Corrective Action, Delayed 1
Title I Schools in Restructuring: 75
School Improvement Level 4, Restructuring, Planning 19
School Improvement Level 5, Restructuring, Implementation 42
School Improvement Level 5, Restructuring, Continuing 14
Title I Schools Receiving Sanctions: 495

State Summary of MAP Results
District by District Results
Preliminary List of Title I Schools Receiving Sanctions

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jeff Grisamore States District Will Only Work With Autism Group If They Go Through Him

As for a committee on autism and special needs in R-7, I have spoken to the Superintendent and Board, which relates to why he spoke to you. If that committee is formed, you will have one voice, although I would like to see D on it too, along with others, such as J. That will be up to R-7. Given your antagonism toward me and them, you are most fortunate you are being considered to be on such a committee. I would encourage you to consider changing your approach for the sake of LSASG's credibility and influence with R-7 and beyond. Your current approach is only isolating and alienating yourself from me and others who are doing much to help children with autism and their families.

This is in response to my email where I asked the Superintendent if Jeff Grisamore was setting up these meetings and if the district will only work through him.

"Rep grisamore is getting ahead of himself. There have been no follow up discussions about any ideas that may have been mentioned in some setting. Honestly, I do not recall discussing this committee but I may have forgotten. It happens. My invitation to discuss the issues is for you only at this time. You and I can discuss together where all of this goes from there. I hope this clarifies my intention. I do not go into this knowing where we will end up but do feel our dialogue has the potential to make us a better district and help you better understand our challenges. I am really looking forward to our meetings."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Missouri Decides To Lower Standards So That All Districts Meet State Requirements

Stimulus Brings Spec. Ed. Funding Challenge
By Christina A. Samuels

The increase in special education funding driven by the economic stimulus is bringing new attention to a unique provision in federal special education law: Districts that get more special education funds from the federal government are allowed to cut back on the local funds that they use to pay for special education programs.

The intent of the provision in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act was to allow districts to gradually scale back their own spending while using federal money to fill the gap. But the law did not anticipate a near-doubling of special education funding from the federal government in a short amount of time. States are receiving $12.2 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to spend on special education over two years, so most districts are likely to see dramatic increases in federal funds.

The prospect of being able to shift some local money from special education programs to other education needs at a time of severe budget pressure has also prompted at least two states¬—Illinois and Missouri—to change the way they assess their districts’ performance with special education students. Under stimulus-funding rules, districts that are meeting requirements under each state’s federally-mandated “state performance plan” get the spending flexibility, while districts that need more help do not.

That’s an incentive to move more districts into the “meets requirement” category, and Missouri plans to do that for one year, said Heidi Atkins Lieberman, the assistant commissioner for special education for the state.

“When we developed the criteria [for evaluating districts], we didn’t realize there would be a fiscal impact,” Ms. Lieberman said.

Shifting Criteria

Missouri evaluates districts on certain compliance issues, such as the percentage of children who receive special education evaluations in 60 days, as the federal government requires. But the state also added additional criteria for districts to meet, including specific graduation rates and dropout rates for students with disabilities. The federal government does not require that states use those measures to make final determinations for their districts.

Criteria like graduation and dropout rates, which are called “performance” indicators, are the ones that Missouri is suspending or a year. The change will allow every district in Missouri to meet state requirements, and thus allow those districts to shift a percentage of the local money that they spend for special education to other education programs. Without the change, nine districts would have had lower ratings.

The local money that would have been spent on special education can be used to avoid cuts to other programs, pay for teachers, and fund systemic changes to can improve schools for all students, Ms Lieberman said.

However, Ms. Lieberman said she had mixed feelings about the one-year change. “I am worried that people will get the wrong message. We have shifted from a compliance-oriented focus to a performance one, so it’s sort of going backwards.” But the state could not pass up the prospect of increased spending flexibility, she said.

‘A Feeding Frenzy’

Illinois is another state that is using different calculations to bring more districts up to standards. Under a new state formula for calculating compliance, the number of districts that need assistance has dropped from 321 to 159, according to a weekly message distributed to districts in June by Superintendent Christopher A. Koch.

The blog IDEA Money Watch, a project of The Advocacy Institute, a nonprofit organization in Marshall, Va., has been tracking special education spending, including gathering the documents on the changes to the policies in Missouri and Illinois.

The spending flexibility is a concern to some special education directors, who don’t want to see local special education funding diverted to other uses as new federal money flows to districts.
Mary Watson, the president of the National Association of State Directors of Education, said state education directors in a tough position. They recognize the financial bind many districts are in, but the officials also feel pressure to show that stimulus funding can help provide a better education for children with disabilities, as was intended.

“It’s been such a feeding frenzy,” said Ms. Watson, the director of the exceptional children division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The message that districts are getting is that “we’re doing well now, so our system can now take money away. It’s been really hard,” she said.

In North Carolina, 53 out of 115 districts now can reduce the amount of local money that they spend on special education programs, Ms. Watson said.

It’s unclear if all of those districts will choose to do that. The state has several successful initiatives under way, including programs to improve literacy and “tiered intervention” programs for academics and behavior at school. Those are all problems that could be continued, or expanded, using stimulus dollars.

But Ms. Watson is primarily getting questions from districts on how to retain teachers. “That leads me to believe that’s going to be the priority,” she said.

Local Funds Cut

The spending flexibility provision is part of the 2004 reauthorization of the IDEA. The law states that if districts receive an increase in federal funds for special education, they can reduce the amount they contribute to special education by 50 percent of that increase. So, if federal money to a district increases by $1 million over the previous year, that district can reduce its local contribution to special education programs by $500,000.

There’s a second condition on the money that is linked to evaluations that states must make of each district on a yearly basis, under the IDEA. Districts are evaluated on various indicators, and their performance determines whether they “meet requirements” or receive one of three lower ranks: “needs assistance,” “needs intervention,” or “needs substantial intervention.”

If a district receives one of those three lower ranks, it has to maintain its current level of local funding and loses the flexibility to shift local dollars to other education needs.

Mabrey Whetstone, the director of special education services for the Alabama department of education, said the stimulus has heightened the importance of those evaluations for state and local education officials.

In Alabama, 76 districts are allowed to reduce their local funding for special education because of the stimulus, though budgets are not final and so it is not clear how many will do so. Fifty-six districts do not have the flexibility, including the state’s largest school systems, Mr. Whetstone said.

The leaders in those districts have visited his offices to find out if they can get their determinations changed. Mr. Whetstone said he has carefully explained to them why it is necessary to hold the line.

“We’re being very clear: There were reasons the stimulus money was given to us,” he said. “This is an opportunity to improve the programming that is provided to students with disabilities.”

Vol. 28, Issue 37

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Letter From My Special Education Director to Missouri Commissioner of Special Education Regarding Concerns Expressed By OSEP

Reorganized School District No.7

301 NE Tudor Road
Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086-5702
Phone: (816) 986-1024 Fax: (816) 986-1160

Jerry L. Keimig
Executive Director of Special Services
December 22, 2008

Ms. Heidi Atkins Lieberman
Assistant Commissioner
Division of Special Education
Missouri Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education
PO Box 480
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102-0480
Dear Ms. Lieberman:

This letter is in response to concerns expressed by OSEP regarding Ms. Tucker. Ms. Tucker has responded to staff in our District with a continual barrage of emails and web postings on a variety of topics expressing concerns, sending general information regarding special education issues, and conducting personal attacks on staff.

Ms. Tucker continually voices her concerns regarding educational programming for her son. We would agree that he has specific areas that need to be addressed, but despite multiple District attempts to provide direct interventions for her son, she has refused many of these services. We have even developed additional course offerings in response to her concerns, but once in place, she has refused to allow her son to access programming. It appears that Ms. Tucker is more
interested in a personal attack on the individuals responsible for providing educational services rather than accessing existing services designed to provide educational benefit for her child.

It is the Lee's Summit R-7's School District stance that we have been extremely responsive to the concerns of Ms. Tucker having devoted hundreds of hours to discussion of said concerns and viable solutions. We would welcome an opportunity to present the district view to an independent panel either through a DESE child complaint or a due process hearing.


Jerry L. Keimig
C: Dr. David McGehee

Dr. McGehee and Mr. Keimig,

I requested and, just received, copies of all of the documents provided to DESE, related to my child complaints, that were provided by the school district. I also requested DESE's investigator notes/data as well. The following letter was in the information that I received.

My continual barrage of emails about general information regarding special education issues were meant to inform the staff of the issues that Jake faces and what experts agree would be the appropriate way to handle them. They were sent because the existing services that were offered to my son have been proven to be inappropriate and in some cases cause regression. It was my intent that educating those that work with my son might help them to understand his needs and allow them to offer an appropriate placement and services.

I continually voice my concerns regarding my son's educational programming because they are not being listened to and my son is losing his future potential. The only course offerings that you have developed for my son would include learning social skills by working with mentally handicapped children in a classroom with a teacher that I had already requested he be removed from. Those courses were already in place according to your staff.

I am not more interested in a personal attack on the individuals responsible for providing educational services rather than accessing existing services designed to provide educational benefit for my son. I am attacking the inappropriate services that are being offered and the fact that his progress is measured by observation. Observation is an opinion and not a fact. It can not be measured.

While the district states that they have devoted hours to discussion of said concerns and viable services, they have in no way spent the amount of time that I have spent on it. I have been forced to study special education law, IDEA, NCLB, autism, and Missouri laws. That is not what I would choose to do in my spare time. I have been forced to do it. If the district spent some of those hundreds of hours actually working with my son, we would all benefit.

I would like to know what direct interventions the district has proposed for my son and if they are research driven. I would like to know which of the following teachers have attended the school district's autism workshop and when. I would like to know why the district won't allow parents notes to be included in the meeting notes. That would clear up a lot of this confusion because you could then see that parents are not listened to and their input is ignored. If meetings were tape recorded it would benefit both sides.

I am not the only parent, in this district, that is having issues. There are many. One parent would get phone calls from the district telling her that they were having an IEP meeting and that they would be by to pick her up. One parent was told that PBM isn't accredited and that her child was being sent to Gillis. The process coordinator then wanted to meet her at a gas station to sign the 10 day waiver. One parent was turned into DCFS for educational neglect because she didn't want to receive homebound services at the teacher's child's baseball game. One parent had to put her child into private school because her son was going to be put into a life skills class because he was bringing down their MAP scores. One child, that is bipolar, has no BIP even though he has threatened a teacher with scissors. One parent had two school district personnel come to her home, unannounced, and tried to bully her into making an educational decision about her child. Three children were bullied and harassed by Todd Wilson the same year and nothing was done about it. Two of those children had to be removed from his class with a note from a physician stating that it was causing them emotional harm being in his class. My child has the same goals that he had 10 years ago. I didn't educate myself on special education and I believed the experts. They deleted goals that he never met and they stated he met goals that he never did. I TRUSTED them and look where we are today.

So, you may state that I am not interested in my son and that I just want to fight, but we both know that isn't true. We both know that this district has a history of denying services and misinforming the public. I have made it my mission to get the truth out. If you want to call that personal attacks. So be it. But, do NOT state that my child is NOT the reason that I am doing this. I am doing this for ALL of the children that are being left behind.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is This Really The Best That We Can Do?

As a citizen of Lee's Summit I believe the time has come for change. Wouldn’t you agree that it is time for the Lee's Summit R7 School District to get back to the business of education and out of the construction business? Do we really need a $12 million pool, $100,000 band uniforms, a $15 million elementary school that is going to have empty classrooms?

Mr. McGehee’s articles seem to appear everywhere boasting the district’s performance awards from the state of Missouri, Money Magazine, etc. Sounds great until you research the real facts! School Board Candidate, Sherri Tucker did just that to discover the United States Department of Education ranked Missouri as 45th in the country with a grade of “C-” and a “D” for K-12 Achievement. Missouri received a status of “F” for spending, a “D-” in accountability and an “F” in college readiness. The Lee’s Summit R7 District is ranked 27th in the State of Missouri. Lee’s Summit High School is ranked 12th in the State, Lee’s Summit North 24th and Lee’s Summit West 57th.

Out of 523 districts this year, the state’s education department handed out Distinction in Performance awards to 330 districts, one of which was Lee’s Summit. Ironically, Lee’s Summit is also one of the districts that received federal sanctions this year for not making enough progress, yet they received a state award for distinction in performance? So some districts that received criticism when Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) results were released in August are now celebrating their state distinction? While students on average met the standards qualifying the district for the state award, subgroups of students (special education, black or those receiving free or reduced-price lunch which comprise 25% of our student population) did not. Is that acceptable? Sherri Tucker does not think so and neither do many other Lee’s Summit residents, myself included.

In addition, our tax levy is the second highest in Jackson County. According to the Lee's Summit District Newsletter, we spend the least amount on our students. We are 4th out of 6 school districts for teacher's salaries and we are 3rd out of 6 school districts for administrator's salaries. Where is all of that money going? Could it be continued construction of new and expensive facilities that we don’t really need?

Lately it seems the current board feels that we need to make Jackson County raise the assessments on our houses. I agree with Sherri Tucker’s viewpoint of cutting back on unnecessary expenses and put the focus back on the business of education. These cuts need to affect all departments including administration. We need to educate all of our children and not just the ones that make us look good. It is not just important to have a good reputation, but to live up to it as well.

I would ask the people of Lee's Summit to do their homework. Get the real facts and then vote for Sherri Tucker. No matter what you may read, Ms. Tucker is not a single-issue candidate. Sherri knows her facts as well, if not better than the other candidates or those currently seated on the board. We desperately need Sherri Tucker representing all of our children. We cannot continue in the direction that we are currently headed. Our children’s’ lives depend on decisions that our board makes. Right now they are not making decisions in the best interest of all of our children

How Missouri Handles Child Complaints

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Making a positive difference through education and service -
March 23,2009
Dr. David McGehee
Lee's Summit R-VII School District
301 N.E. Tudor Road
Lee's Summit, MO 64086-5702

Curtis and Sherri Tucker
1200 SE London Way
Lee's Summit, MO 64081

Re: Jacob Tucker

Dear Dr. McGehee and Mr. and Ms. Tucker:

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has completed its investigation of the child complaint filed against the Lee's Summit R-VII School District by Curtis and Sherri Tucker on behalf of Jacob Tucker. The complaint was received on January 22,2009.

The attached decision, containing findings and conclusions, shall constitute the final decision of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Bert Schulte
Interim Commissioner of Education

c: Mr. Jerry Keimig, Special Education Contact,
Lee's Summit R-VII School District
Ms. Janet Hoskins, Assistant Director, Special Education Compliance
Ms. Julie Bower, Supervisor, Special Education Compliance
Ms. Jackie Bruner, Director, Special Education Compliance
Ms. Pamela A. Williams, Coordinator, Special Education Services
Ms. Cynthia Quetsch, Legal Counsel, Division of Special Education
Ms. Heidi Atkins Lieberman, Assistant Commissioner, Division of Special Education

Child Complaint Decision
Re: Jacob Tucker

Findings and Conclusions

1. Allegation: March 23, 2009

The Lee's Summit R-VII School District, in violation of state and federal regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), failed to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with appropriate goals to address Jacob Tucker's needs.


Curtis and Sherri Tucker, parents of Jacob Tucker, allege the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team did not develop appropriate IEP goals that address Jacob's needs. Ms. Tucker opines that Jacob's goals do not state how Jacob will achieve the goals, what the method of therapy or services will be used to help him achieve the goals, who will perform those services, how often those services will be provided, and what the services are. In addition, she opines that the goals
developed for Jacob are not appropriate or achievable given his disability.

Jerry Keimig, director of special education, indicated the IEP team met on December 15, 2008, and developed IEP goals based upon Jacob's evaluation data and current educational performance. (Jerry Keimig was not a part of the IEP team) Conference notes reflect a discussion among IEP team members regarding the appropriateness of Jacob's goals.

The present level of academic and functional performance (PLAAFP) of Jacob's IEP dated December 15,2008, states that Jacob's disability affects his functional and academic involvement and progress in regular education curriculum in the following manner: class participation, staying on task, understanding and following directions, completing and turning in work on time, organization, self advocating for make-up work, taking notes, expressing himself through lengthy forms of written expression, test taking skills, understanding emotions of peers and teachers, and general social skills. In addition, the PLAAFP indicates that Jacob continues
to need improvement with the following skills: following written directions, self advocacy, organization, study skills, pragmatic language, coping skills, and social skills. Jacob's IEP has five (5) goals which address increasing self advocacy, organization and study skills, pragmatic social skills for maintaining conversations, identifying the impression he makes, and inferring meaning from different social scenarios. The goals are measurable as they include specific numbers to record level of attainment. (These goals are not measurable and they are not appropriate)


State and federal regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams to develop measurable annual goals (including academic and functional goals) to meet the child's needs resulting from the child's disability, enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum, and meet each of the child's other educational needs that result from the child's disability. Jacob's IEP dated December 15,2008, includes IEP goals that are related to the areas identified as skill deficits in the present level of academic achievement and functional
performance (PLAAFP) and the areas in which Jacob's disability affects his functional and academic involvement and his progress in the general education curriculum. (His goals will not meet his needs, enable him to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculu, or meet other educational needs that result from his disability.)

Goal #1 Increase self-advocacy by asking for help at least 2 times in each class per semester

Goal #2 Increase organization/study skills by independently following written directions and completing task 2 times in each class per semester

Goal #3 Jacob will increase pragmatic/social language skills by maintaining a conversation using concise and relevant information with peers/adults with no more than one prompt on 3 consecutive days.

Goal #4 Jacob will improve pragmatic skills by identifying the impression he feels he is making in an interaction with peers/adults and adjusting his behavior appropriately in a structured small-group setting in 4/5 opportunities on 3 consecutive data days.

Goal #5 Jacob will improve pragmatic skills by inferring meaning from different social scenarios and identifying appropriate responses to the emotions of others in these situations with 80% accuracy on 3 consecutive data days. The state and federal regulations do not require that goals state how a student will achieve the goal, the method of therapy or services, and who will provide the services. The services summary of the IEP must include how often the services are provided and what the services are but that information is not required to be written in the IEP goals. The service summary of Jacob's IEP includes that information.

It is an IEP team's responsibility to develop appropriate goals on an individual basis based on the academic and functional needs of the child. In this case, the IEP team met and developed goals based upon Jacob's evaluation data and current academic achievement and functional performance. Goals must be measurable. Jacob's goals were measurable. Based on the foregoing, the Lee's Summit R-VII School District is found not out of compliance.

2. Allegation:

The Lee's Summit R-VII School District, in violation of state and federal regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), failed to include areas of weakness and current evaluation results in Jacob Tucker's Individualized Education Program (IEP).


Curtis and Sherri Tucker, parents of Jacob Tucker, allege the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team failed to address any of Jacob's areas of weakness and refused to put his current evaluation scores in the present level of academic achievement.and functional performance section of the IEP, therefore, resulting in Jacob's IEP not addressing his real needs.

Jacob's IEP dated December 15,2008, states that Jacob's disability affects his functional and academic involvement and progress in the general education curriculum in the following manner: class participation, staying on task, understanding and following instructions, completing and turning in work on time, organization, self-advocacy for make-up work, taking notes, expressing himself through lengthy forms of written expression, testing-taking skills, understanding the
emotions of peers and teachers, and general social skills. Jacob's IEP also states that Jacob continues to need improvement with the following skills: following written directions, selfadvocacy, organization, study skills, pragmatic language, coping skills, and social skills. Jacob's IEP dated December 15, 2008, states that the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - 4th Edition (WISC-IV) indicated that Jacob's abilities to sustain attention, concentration, and exert mental control are a weakness relative to his nonverbal reasoning skills. Jacob's ability to process visual material quickly is also a weakness relative to his nonverbal reasoning skills.
Jacob's reevaluation dated December 2,2008, which is included in the December 15, 2008, IEP, states that his overall cognitive ability is within the average range as tested by the WISC-IV. The Wechsler Non-Verbal Scale of Ability (WNV) indicated that Jacob's cognitive ability was at the superior range. The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - 2nd Edition (WIA T-II) indicated that Jacob's reading and written language skills are in the high average range, while math appears to be within the average range. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales - 2nd Edition, indicates moderately low to adequate adaptive skills observed at school.


State and federal regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams to consider the strengths of the child and the results of initial or most recent reevaluation results. In this case, the IEP team considered Jacob's strengths, weaknesses, and test scores; and the IEP includes strengths, weaknesses, and the most recent reevaluation results. Therefore, the Lee's Summit R-VII School District is found not out of compliance.

3. Allegation:

The Lee's Summit R-VII School District, in violation of state and federal regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), failed to allow Jacob Tucker's parents to be an equal participant in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team process.


Curtis and Sherri Tucker, parents of Jacob Tucker, allege the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team failed to make Ms. Tucker an equal partner on the IEP team. Ms. Tucker reports that she was told by the school district that she is the expert at horne and the district is the expert on Jacob at school. Ms. Tucker contends that the Lee's Summit R-VII School District's failure to allow her to tape record meetings and include her conference notes with the district's conference notes, indicates that she was not a full participant on her son's IEP team.

Documentation indicates that Mr. and Ms. Tucker were invited to and attended the IEP meetings on May 5, 2008, and December 15, 2008.

Jacob's IEP was amended on August 27,2008, and February 2,2009. The August 27,2008, IEP amendment indicates that Ms. Tucker was present and agreed to the changes made to Jacob's IEP. The February 2,2009, IEP amendment indicates that Ms. Tucker agreed to the IEP amendment via email. (This is a complete lie)

From: Sherri Tucker [] Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 11:21 AMTo: Jerry Keimig; David McGehee; Bower, Julie; Hoskins, JanetSubject: Letter About IEP

Below please find the letter that I received from the district and the changes that have been made to Jake's IEP.

It also included a Notice of Action and a note to sign and return the consent form. I don't believe that any of this was discussed or that I was included in these decisions. It states that these changes represent our views of Jacob's academic and functional performance and they modified the PLAAFP to accommodate some of my suggestions. How did we complete the IEP on 12-15-08 when I didn't agree to it?

Many of the items state that parents report. The district has a copy of the report from Jake's psychologist. He is on the district's list of approved independent evaluators. It was he that reported that Jake has an issue with visual-motor integration. His report is available in Jake's file.

February 2, 2009

Dear Sherri,
As you requested, please find attached Amendment of the IEP that we completed 12-15-08. We have reviewed your suggestions and modified the PLAAFP to accommodate some of your suggestions. These changes represent our view of Jacob's academic and functional performance. Please also find attached Notice of Action for these changes.
Respectfully yours,

Joy Rose
SPED Process Coordinator

Here are the changes in the schools part of the PLAAFP:

WISC-IV scores indicate that Jacob's abilities to sustain attention, concentrate, and exert mental control are a weakness relative to his nonverbal reasoning abilities. Jacob's ability to process visual material quickly is also a weakness relative to his nonverbal reasoning ability.

Here are the changes in the parent's concerns:

Parents note that while Jacob has shown improvement in writing grammatically correct sentences, paragraph construction, and written expression, he still has deficits in these areas. Parents report that they and psychiatrist do not see improvement in initiating, maintain, and ending conversations appropriately, nor identifying the emotions of others. They feel this is a major area of weakness for Jacob. Parents state that they feel that Jacob continues to need improvement in math reasoning. Parents also show a diagnosis of Early Infantile Autism with Kanner's Syndrome. Mr./Mrs. Tucker report that Jacob's skin picking is due to the anxiety that he experiences because of school and he can no longer take medication for it. They report that he was taking medication for it, but it damaged his liver. He is currently seeing a psychiatrist and he believes this to be the case. Parents also note concerns for visual-motor integration being lower than cognitive and academic functioning, citing slowness in dominant and non-dominant hands. Parents want the PLAAFP to include all of the diagnostic data. The district will not repeat all of the voluminous data here, because the information is available in Jacob's school file and is incorporated by this reference.

Parent concerns are set forth in Jacob's IEP. In addition, Joy Rose, special education process coordinator, informed Ms. Tucker on October 13, 2008, that all of Ms. Tucker's communications, including parent conference notes from IEP meetings, are placed in Jacob's special education file.
Documentation indicates there are multiple emails and correspondence dated January 23,2008, to January 27,2009, between Ms. Tucker and various district personnel. There were numerous communications about Jacob's progress, goals, and implementation of the IEP. Some of the parent's requests for evaluation were granted and some refused. Ms. Tucker was provided with draft IEPs prior to each IEP meeting. Ms. Tucker submitted a classroom observation report to
the IEP team with suggestions prior to the December 15, 2008, IEP meeting. The district responded to numerous issues raised by Ms. Tucker, but did not always provide the relief Ms. Tucker requested. The district offered to meet with her to discuss her concerns.

The Lee's Summit Board of Education policy states that the use of audio, video, or other recording devices at IEP meetings or Section 504 meetings is strictly prohibited in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The policy also states that exceptions to this policy will only be made when such recordings are necessary to ensure parental rights that are guaranteed under Part B of the_IDEA. These requests must be made within a-reasonable-period oftime prior to the scheduled meetings.


State and federal regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require that input be considered from all IEP team members when developing a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) and that the district take steps to ensure that parents are present and given an opportunity to participate. There is no requirement that parents be an "equal" decision-maker nor is there any standard to determine the quantity or quality of participation. Considering input and allowing participation does not require the team to include all the input in the student's IEP. In this case, documentation reflects that Ms. Tucker was given an opportunity to participate as a member of the IEP team. Therefore, the Lee's Summit R-VII School District is found not out of compliance.

January 17, 2009

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (SEAP)
Division of Special Education Compliance
C/O Child Complaint Coordinator – Ms. Jackie Bruner
P.O. Box 480
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480

Dear Ms. Bruner,

This child complaint is written regarding my son, Jacob Edward Tucker. I am unable to resolve issues with our school district, Lee’s Summit R-7. I have written to the IEP team and the district’s superintendent and have not been able to get a response from them about my concerns.

My concerns revolve around the goals that the team have for him. I don’t think that they are appropriate and do not address all of his needs. He recently had a reevaluation and he had quite a scatter of scores. His IEP doesn’t address many of the areas of his weaknesses. The District refused to put his evaluation scores in his Present Level and therefore the IEP doesn’t address his real needs.

My son's PLAAP is just what the district brought to the table and hardly any of my input was used. That does not make me an equal partner on the IEP team. While the composite test scores might give a picture of what Jake can or can't do, the subtests give the real picture of his strengths and weaknesses. To make a statement such as, "he performed within the average" does not address his strengths and weaknesses.

Present Level of Educational Performance (PLEP) - The present level determines approaches for ensuring involvement in, or adaptations or modifications to, the general curriculum. Each area of identified educational need must be addressed in at least one of the following: annual goals, supplementary aids/services/supports, or secondary transition services.
The PLEP should accurately describe the student’s performance in all areas of education that are affected by the student’s disability [R340.1721e(2)(a)]. It is helpful to consider the key role of present level of performance in the overall development of the IEP.

Present level of performance information supports the IEP Team’s determination of supplementary aids/services/personnel supports, annual goals and short-term objectives, and state- and district-wide assessments on the IEP [34 CFR §300.347(a)]. The PLEP statement(s) should include four elements (in no particular order):

1. A narrative summary of the baseline data. In understandable terms, explain the data, areas of need, and how the disability affects progress in the general curriculum. The narrative summary must be sufficient to provide a foundation for education planning (a starting point for instruction).

2. Baseline data may be obtained from criterion referenced tests, standardized achievement tests, diagnostic tests, classroom performance, systematic observations, state or district-wide assessments, checklists, progress reports, report cards, student input, parent input, or any combination of the above.

3. A statement of how the disability impacts the student’s involvement/progress in the general curriculum.

4. A description of area(s) of educational need.

Previously, IEPs were required to include "a statement of the child's present levels of educational performance ..." Under IDEA 2004, the IEP must include "a statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance ..." Present levels of academic achievement and functional performance require objective data from assessments.
If the school insists on using subjective teacher observations, an independent observer (the hearing officer, for example) will conclude that the school is not interested in monitoring the child's educational progress. This is exactly the conclusion you want this person to draw.
I asked for an ADOS to be performed. The Autism Coordinator suggested that the Autism Social Skills Profile would be a better tool. I agreed to that test, but I stated that I didn’t want my scores averaged in with the teacher’s scores. My son is in high school and his teachers aren’t familiar with his disability and they only see him one hour a day. To use their observations, and to average them with mine, would not give an accurate picture. The District agreed to do that.
The District had twelve teachers and me fill out the profile. There was no test score for this instrument. Instead, there was a summary at the end of the evaluation. I made my own graph to make it easier to read. This information was not available at the meeting to discuss the evaluations. There was only a rough draft without the summary or any explanation of how the data would be used. The class observation was not available either. Instead, the evaluator had written notes on notebook paper and read them aloud at the meeting. The following is the summary that was provided by the district.

Following are the items which at least 7 of the 13 raters indicated as being "never" observed (items 1-36): invites peers to join him in activities, interacts with peers during unstructured activities, asks questions to request information about a person, requests assistance from others, offers assistance to others, initiates greetings with others, introduces self to others, politely asks others to move out of his way. Following are the itemswhich at least 7 of the 13 raters indicated as being "often/very often"(items 37-49) observed as a concern: engages in solitary interests and hobbies, engages in solitary activities in the presence of others.
My son’s evaluations show some serious deficits. These are not truly addressed in his present IEP. The following are his goals:

1. Goal #1 Increase self-advocacy by asking for help at least 2 times in each class per semester.

2. Goal #2 Increase organization/study skills by independently following written directions and completing task 2 times in each class per semester.

3. Goal #3 Jacob will increase pragmatic/social language skills by maintaining a conversation using concise and relevant information with peers/adults with no more than one prompt on 3 consecutive days.

4. Goal #4 Jacob will improve pragmatic skills by identifying the impressions he feels he is making in an interaction with peers/adults and adjusting his behavior appropriately in a structured small-group setting in 4/5 opportunities on 3 consecutive data days.

5. Goal #5 Jacob will improve pragmatic skills by inferring meaning from different social scenarios and identifying appropriate responses to the emotions of other in these situations with 80% accuracy on 3 consecutive data days.

These goals do not state how he will do these things, what the method of therapy or services will be to help him do these things, who will perform these services, how often these services will be provided, and what the services are. How can a goal be achieved when there is nothing in place to achieve it?

1. Goal # 1 What does this mean? Who is he to ask? What phrasing will he use? What kind of help can he expect? What is the time frame for the response?

2. Goal #2 This goal would allow him to fail. If he only completes a task 2 times per semester, he would fail.

3. Goal #3 So if they prompt him, he will concisely say, “Hi. How are you?” This is not a measurable goal. What is relevant or irrelevant information? Who measures this? Who decides? What is the relevance meter?

4. Goal #4 How can he self reflect and self repair language? Is his impression measurable? He is being expected to remember to adjust his disability.

5. Goal #5 How will he improve? How will you know which he is doing on which of three days?

How are they going to help him achieve these goals because it looks like they're making him responsible for everything (ie he'll ask for help; he'll maintain the conversation")What are THEY going to do to help HIM be successful?What do they mean by "maintaining a conversation using concise and relevant information?" Who defines what's "concise" or "relevant"? What are his disabilities and known areas of need? For example, can he identify what "impression" he "feels" he's making? Will he be able to "adjust his behaviors accordingly" once he "recognizes his impressions"? How will he master that goal? By teacher observation of his interactions? Is there going to be someone there to "moderate" his interactions with others? For example, will a teacher or therapist stop to ask him, "What impression do you think you're making on your peers?" either after the interaction is over or would they ask him in front of his peers? What is his baseline for "inferring meaning" in social situations now? Does he have one? How do they know this is an area of need?What "social situations" are they going to use to try to teach him to infer meaning?Can he identify an "appropriate response to the emotions of others"? What specifically do they mean by an "appropriate response" to emotions of others? Are they trying to teach compassion, sympathy, how to diffuse someone who is angry with him? It seems like they want him to tailor his actions to someone else's "reactions." Can he do this? How are they even measuring 80% accuracy over 3 consecutive days? They haven't defined what their criteria are yet (i.e. He'll engage in a 5 minute give and take conversation about some social situation - I don't know, say, how to act in a restaurant - so, maybe how to interact with a waiter when ordering a meal).

Because there are no evaluations in the Present Level we don’t even know what his areas of deficits are. We only know that sometimes he is average, sometimes he is above average, sometimes he is below average, but overall he seems to be quite average.

I asked for an independent evaluation in hopes that I would be able to get more information about my son’s deficits and have someone to help me with analyzing the data. The district did not send me the same information, about providers, that they send other parents. The list that they sent me was inaccurate and forced me to find the updated information on my own. I notified the district of this. I have received no response from them.

34 CFR §300.502
As described below, you have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of
your child if you disagree with the evaluation of your child that was obtained by your school

If you request an independent educational evaluation, the school district must provide you with information about where you may obtain an independent educational evaluation and about the school district’s criteria that apply to independent educational evaluations.

My son’s evaluations show that he has a weakness in oral expression. His standard score in that area was an 80. His full scale IQ is 102. Our district standard states that a 20-point difference qualifies you for services. This is per Jerry Keimig. This area needs a goal. His standard score for Pragmatic Language Usage Index was an 86. This area needs a goal. His standard score for Contextual Conventions was a 90. This is not a solid skill and this area needs a goal. His standard score for Sentence Assembly was 80. This area needs a goal. His standard score for Language Memory was an 88. This area needs a goal and accommodations. His age equivalent score for the Interpersonal Relationships subtest of the Vineland II was <3:0. His age equivalent score for the Expressive was 6:10. His age equivalent for Play and Leisure Time was 3:6. His age equivalent for Coping Skills was 3:2. These were observations from a teacher that sees him one hour a day. The Vineland II scores that come from the parent rating report are: Receptive, age equivalent 1:6, Expressive, age equivalent 5:4, Personal, age equivalent 5:10, Domestic, age equivalent 5:6, Interpersonal Relationships, age equivalent 0:1, Play and Leisure Time, age equivalent 1:10, Coping Skills, age equivalent 3:10. His Internalizing was at the Clinically Significant Level, his externalizing was at the Elevated Level, and his Maladaptive Behavior Index was at the Clinically Significant Level. He needs help to improve in all of these areas. His standard score for Working Memory Index was 88. He needs goals and accommodations in this area.

I don’t believe that his deficits are being addressed and the District seems to be complacent about this. His overall scores aren’t that significant and they are not addressing the subtest scores.

I have attached documentation in support of my claims listed above. I request a copy of all responses that the District provides and the opportunity to submit a rebuttal. I feel that the described events are a clear violation of my rights to participation in my son’s education and his right to a free and appropriate education. I ask that DESE intervene in this situation and mandate the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District to comply with the law. I believe that compensatory services are warranted as the district has prohibited my son from making progress and receiving the free and appropriate education that is federally mandated.


Curtis and Sherri Tucker
1200 SE London Way
Lee’s Summit, MO 64081


Attachment 1 – Autism Social Skills Profile
Attachment 2 – Email Discussing Social Skills Program, dated December 28, 2008
Attachment 3 – Graph of Autism Social Skills Profile
Attachment 4 – Email stating evaluator list is inaccurate, dated December 26, 2008
Attachment 5 – Email requesting IEE, dated December 19, 2008
Attachment 6 – Email with amended evaluator list, dated December 29, 2008
Attachment 7 – Email with information from psychologist, dated December 30, 2008
Attachment 8 – Email re: Modification Changed, dated January 7, 2009
Attachment 9 – Secondary School Experiences of Students With Autism
Attachment 10 – Vineland Comparison Graph
Attachment 11 – Full Scale IQ vs. Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test
Attachment 12 - Full Scale IQ vs. CELF-4
Attachment 13 – Full Scale IQ vs. TOPL-2)
Attachment 14 – Full Scale IQ vs. TLC-E)
Attachment 15 – WISC-IV
Attachment 16 – Full Scale IQ vs. WNV
Attachment 17 – Full Scale IQ vs. WIATT-II
Attachment 18 – Full Scale IQ vs. TOWL-3
Attachment 19 – Child Complaint Model Form

January16, 2009

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (SEAP)
Division of Special Education Compliance
C/O Child Complaint Coordinator – Ms. Jackie Bruner
P.O. Box 480
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480

Dear Ms. Bruner,

This child complaint is written regarding my son, Jacob Edward Tucker. I am unable to resolve issues with our school district, Lee’s Summit R-7. I have written to the IEP team and the district’s superintendent and have not been able to get a response from them about my concerns.

My concerns revolve around parent participation. During meetings, my comments are either ignored and no changes are made or they listen to my concerns and state that they don’t agree and no changes are made. Any suggestions that I have made regarding Present Level are ignored. I state that I don’t agree with their description of the Present Level and they tell me that I may include that in the Parent Concerns. I submit my concerns to be included in the Parent Concerns and they edit this document. I asked for tests score to be placed in the Present Level to guide services proposed and I am refused. I was allowed no input in relation to the goals and/or services. My son has an eligibility category of Educational Autism. He is in regular education classes with no supports besides 40 minutes of speech per week. I feel that decisions have been made prior to the meeting regarding my child’s IEP. The district has removed items from the Modifications/Accommodations page without my approval. It was discussed in the meeting and the decision was made to change the frequency from As Needed to Daily; not to delete it entirely. The meeting notes taken by the District were incomplete and rarely reported the discussions held in the meeting. I specifically wrote the Superintendent asking to record the meeting due to the fact that the recorder could not accurately describe the events as tape recording is against District policy, although legal in Missouri. I have not received an answer to this request to date. I requested a notice of action refused for the District’s refusal to include my changes in the Present Level and for editing my Parent Concerns without my approval. The district responded to this request on January 6 in an e-mail but I have received no such document.

Applicable sections of IDEA law are described below:

Integral to the design of IDEA is the substantive involvement of parents in assessing student needs and planning how to address those needs. In its Finding section, IDEA 2004 states that:

(5) Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by...

(B) strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families of such children have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home... (20 U.S.C. $ 1400 (c) (5) (B).)

State education agencies and local school districts must have in place policies and procedures that ensure the opportunity for parents to participate in meetings related to the identification, evaluation, program and placement of their children (20 U.S.C. $ 1415 (b) (1)). Participate is the operative term. The school must enable meaningful participation in discussion and decision-making. Mere attendance at meetings satisfies neither the spirit nor the letter of the law. The requirement applies to all meetings in which decisions will be made except for routine meetings among staff to discuss day-to-day instructional planning necessary to implement an existing IEP.

Recent decisions affirm the essential role of parents in designing their children's special education. Precluding parent participation through staff predetermination of services or placement egregiously violates IDEA. School districts should be aware that courts have become more alert to this problem and less likely to excuse it (Deal v. Hamilton Co. Bd. of Ed.; Knable v. Bexley City Sch. Dist.).

Also see attached documentation in support of my claims listed above. I request a copy of all responses that the District provides and the opportunity to submit a rebuttal. I feel that the described events are a clear violation of my rights to participation in my son’s education. I ask that DESE intervene in this situation and mandate the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District to comply with the law. I believe that compensatory services are warranted as the district prohibited my participation thus meaningfully impeding my son’s education.


Curtis and Sherri Tucker
1200 SE London Way
Lee’s Summit, MO 64081
816.554.3017 Home


Attachment 1 – Child Complaint – Model Form
Attachment 2 – Letter to District re: Parent Participation, dated December 22, 2008
Attachment 3 – Letter to District re: My Parent Concerns, dated December 23, 2008
Attachment 4 – Letter from Joy Rose re: Notice of Action, dated January 6, 2009
Attachment 5 – Letter to District re: Modification Changed, dated January 7, 2009
Attachment 6 – Copy of District Notes, dated August 27, 2008
Attachment 7 – Request to Tape Record, dated January 7, 2009
Attachment 8 – Parent’s Meeting Notes, dated August 27, 2008
Attachment 9 – District Refusal to Include Parent’s Notes, dated October 13, 2008
Attachment 10-Request for Notice of Action, dated December 30, 2008
Attachment 11-Request for Changes in Present Level, dated December 30, 2008

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Co-Teaching How Effective Is It?

Read the whole article at


Co-teaching is a special education service delivery model in which two certified teachers, one general educator and one special educator, share responsibility for planning, delivering, and evaluating instruction for a diverse group of students, some of whom are students with disabilities. Co-teaching has emerged as a very popular alternative to the more traditional Resource Room or pull-out special education service delivery models and as a way to support inclusion of students with disabilities in general education settings. Coteaching draws on the strengths of both the general educator, who understands the structure, content, and pacing of the general education curriculum, and the special educator, who can identify unique learning needs of individual students and enhance curriculum and instruction to match these needs.

According to its advocates, co-teaching is supposed to accomplish three goals: First, co-teaching is expected to make available to all students, including those with disabilities, a wider range of instructional alternatives than would be possible with just one teacher. Second, co-teaching is expected to enhance the participation of students with disabilities as full classroom members. Third, co-teaching is expected to improve performance outcomes for students with disabilities. In theory, when co-teaching is implemented, both educators are delivering substantive instruction, and the instruction from both teachers occurs within the confines of a single classroom. In practice, when co-teaching is implemented, the roles and responsibilities of the general and special education teacher vary widely.

A search was conducted for research articles published within the last 20 years in refereed journals that compared teachers’ instructional practices, student engagement rates, and/or student academic progress in co-taught classrooms with those in alternative special education service delivery models. Only four articles were found in which the effectiveness of co-teaching was measured empirically and compared statistically with a control condition. Three of these reported on studies conducted in elementary schools, one on a study conducted in a high school.
Elementary Level

• Bear and Proctor (1990) studied the achievement gains of 47 third graders with high-incidence disabilities taught in Team Approach to Mastery (TAM) classrooms, compared to the gains shown by 31 students with high-incidence disabilities served in resource rooms. In TAM classrooms, students with high-incidence disabilities are taught together with non-disabled peers for 100% of the school day, at the ratio of approximately one student with disabilities to every three without disabilities. Two teachers, one certified in general education, the other in special education, jointly provide instruction to all students in the same classroom. The researchers used scores from the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, available in students’ permanent records, to show that achievement gains of students with disabilities in TAM classes were consistently greater than (in math) or equal to (in reading) the gains made by students in the resource room. They concluded that TAM classrooms are “at least as effective” as resource rooms.

• Schulte, Osborne, and McKinney (1990) randomly assigned students with learning disabilities in grades 1 to 4 to one of three service delivery models: one period of resource room services per day (n=19), consultative services to the general education teacher who had students with disabilities in his/her class (n=14), and consultative services with co-teaching (n=19). They measured students’ academic progress using both standardized achievement tests in reading, writing, and mathematics, and a criterion-referenced reading measure. Like Bear and Proctor, Schulte and her colleagues found that consultation plus co-teaching was “as effective as” the other service delivery models in producing academic gains.

• Marston (1996) compared reading progress of elementary students with high-incidence disabilities served in inclusion-only (n=33), pull-out only (n=171), and combined (n=36) service delivery models. In inclusion-only models, students with disabilities were provided all their IEP services in the general education classroom through co-teaching. In pull-out only, all special education services were delivered in a resource room. The combined model included pullout resource room services and co-teaching provided jointly by the general and special education teacher in the general education classroom. By comparing curriculum-based measures taken in fall and spring, Marston demonstrated that reading progress of students served in the combined model was significantly greater than that of students served in either the inclusion-only (co-teaching) or pull-out only models. Once again, co-teaching was ‘as effective as” resource in producing reading growth, but this study also showed the value-added of combining both coteaching and pull-out service delivery systems.

High School Level

• Boudah and colleagues (1997) studied the effects of co-teaching (referred to as collaborative instruction) on the performance of high school students with disabilities on content subject quizzes and test scores. They found that the performance of students with high-incidence disabilities (n=16) actually worsened during the experimental, co-teaching treatment. Furthermore, even with two teachers in the room, students in co-taught settings were only minimally engaged in instructional tasks. Despite the current and growing popularity of co-teaching, research on student outcomes in this service delivery model is very limited. Only four studies could be found. In the three elementary studies co-teaching was just as effective in producing academic gains as resource room instruction or consultation with the general education teacher; in the high school study, students’ quiz and exam grades actually worsened during the co-teaching experiment. If the goal of coteaching is to allow students with high-incidence disabilities to access the general education curriculum and to “do no harm” to them in terms of academic achievement, then the three elementary studies provide modest support for a co-teaching model in elementary schools. If the goal, however, is to achieve greater academic gains than have been traditionally achieved in a resource program, then co-teaching has not yet proved itself useful. Furthermore, the research suggests that the prevailing assumptions about the effectiveness and usefulness of co-teaching for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms need to be reexamined.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

IDEA Litigation Challenging State Noncompliance

Back to School on Civil Rights

V. IDEA Litigation Challenging State Noncompliance

A. Introduction Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents and families of children with disabilities play a key role in enforcing the law. They initiate litigation and raise issues that otherwise may not gain attention. In order to pursue these issues, parents must find attorneys who are knowledgeable about IDEA and willing to accept cases where fee payment may be deferred or delayed until the case is settled. In other words, the attorney may not get paid unless the client wins and the court awards attorney's fees. Damages are rarely awarded in these cases, which are often protracted and expensive. During the pendency of the cases, until they are settled, the attorneys must be in a position to work without compensation.
Litigating attorneys in the private bar who are experts on IDEA are not commonplace.

Frequently specialty public interest organizations will accept such cases. The Protection and Advocacy systems (P&As), which provide legal representation and advocacy for people with disabilities in every state in the country, represent families in many special education cases.
"As you look at the priorities that are being set by the [P&As], almost all of our cases now are expulsion/suspension cases. We're just trying to keep kids in the classrooms."-- Curt Decker, Executive Director, National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS), on the need for OSEP to fund legal advocacy for parents[289]They are federally funded to provide such support. Nonprofit organizations such as the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the contractor for this report, also provide such representation, but usually without federal funding. Both organizations report that they do not have sufficient resources to respond to all the requests for assistance that they receive from parents of students in special education. Without adequate support these organizations are unable to assist parents in raising issues, such as the following ones, which generate IDEA compliance.

B. Summary of Litigation in California, Illinois, and Texas In three recent cases, parents have challenged their state's monitoring and enforcement system in failing to address local noncompliance. Although the local education agency (LEA) and, ultimately, the state education agency (SEA) have responsibility for ensuring FAPE to all children with disabilities in the state, when the LEA fails in its responsibility to provide services and the SEA fails to properly monitor and enforce the law, as the following cases reflect, the burden of enforcement falls on parents.
In Corey H. v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, Chicago public school students with disabilities brought a class action against both the City of Chicago Board of Education (CBE) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).[290] The students sought declaratory and injunctive relief to correct CBE's and ISBE's widespread failure to educate children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE).[291]

Although CBE agreed to settle with an extensive plan for correcting the LRE violations, ISBE continued to argue that it fulfilled the IDEA's LRE mandate.[292] ISBE claimed that IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1412(6)) requires only that it provide oversight and general supervision of CBE's LRE efforts.[293] ISBE also argued that its monitoring efforts were adequate because OSEP had approved Illinois' state plan including its monitoring plan. The court, however, found that Congress intended to place final responsibility and accountability in one agency, and held that once ISBE had accepted IDEA funds, it was responsible to ensure compliance with the IDEA's LRE requirements.[294] As the court put it, "the evidence presented at trial demonstrates beyond doubt that, despite the fact that the LRE mandate has been on the books since 1975, the Chicago public schools have languished in an atmosphere of separate and unequal education for children with emotional, mental, and behavioral difficulties."[295] The fact that OSEP may have approved Illinois' plan was not dispositive.[296] The court affirmed the right of parents to enforce their children's rights and ensure compliance with IDEA independent of OSEP's actions or inaction. To the court, ISBE clearly violated its duty to establish its own effective monitoring and enforcement system.[297]

The Corey H. court found numerous systemic failures in ISBE's monitoring and enforcement of IDEA's LRE requirements: students with low-incidence disabilities were placed in highly restrictive placements, ISBE's funding formula perpetuated segregating children with disabilities, and when the CBE failures were pointed out to ISBE, ISBE took little or no action to ensure the failures were corrected.[298] The court ordered the ISBE to identify and correct its LRE violations, inform its teachers and administrators of their IDEA responsibilities regarding LRE implementation, certify teachers according to LRE requirements, and establish a state funding formula that reimburses local agencies for educating children in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs. The court has since appointed its own expert to develop an effective monitoring and enforcement system for Illinois. A monitoring system currently in development will closely follow the focused monitoring approach being tested in Texas.

Another recent case challenging a state's failure to monitor and enforce LEA compliance with IDEA is Angel G. et al. v. TEA. Filed in 1994, this case was brought by parents on behalf of their children who resided in Texas Residential Care Facilities (RCF). The case alleged that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) failed to meet three responsibilities required of a state education agency by IDEA: (1) child find, (2) development of interagency agreements, and (3) effective monitoring and enforcement of LEA compliance with IDEA.

In 1996, the court in Angel G. approved a settlement agreement that resolved both the child find and interagency agreement issues but left open the issue of the effectiveness of TEA's monitoring system. TEA continued to fail to assure that its RCFs provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children and youth with disabilities who reside in these facilities. An independent consultant issued a report finding TEA's monitoring system to be "fundamentally flawed" and recommended that TEA convene a group of experts to develop a replacement or supplemental system of special education monitoring. TEA initially refused to implement this recommendation but later informed the court that it had made substantial changes to its current monitoring system to ensure compliance with IDEA. The court requested that each party submit their plans for an effective special education monitoring system and held oral argument on the adequacy of these plans. Following this hearing, the court issued an order setting the case for an evidentiary hearing to begin on August 9, 1999, and to continue as needed.[299] At this hearing, the court will examine "whether the components of the plan TEA filed in this case on August 14, 1998, are adequate to enable TEA to meet its burden as an SEA...."

In the most recent of these cases challenging the state's monitoring system, a group of eight children with disabilities in East Palo Alto, California, brought a class action lawsuit in November 1996 against their school district, the Ravenswood City Elementary School District, for extensive violations with all of the substantive and procedural requirements of IDEA;[300] (e.g., failure to provide FAPE, extensive LRE violations, failure to ensure parent participation, utilizing discriminatory evaluation procedures, etc.).

The plaintiff children in this case, Emma C. v. Eastin, also sued the California Department of Education (CDE) for failing to monitor and enforce the law despite repeated findings of noncompliance in the school district.

After a period of intensive law and motion activity, the U.S. district court made a number of critical rulings in Emma C. The court held that (1) all available remedies, including money damages and compensatory education, are available under IDEA against the CDE and against members of California's Board of Education in their individual capacities; (2) that the nature of the systemic problems alleged in the suit made exhaustion of administrative remedies futile and therefore unnecessary; and (3) that the CDE was at that time incapable of ensuring compliance in the district because of the substantial inadequacies in its own monitoring and complaint systems.[301] The court certified a class comprised of all past, present and future special education students in the district.

Following these court rulings, the plaintiff children in Emma C. and the CDE entered into a tentative settlement agreement in which CDE agreed to undertake a comprehensive step by step approach to bring Ravenswood into compliance. Plaintiffs also reached agreement with the district in which the district primarily agreed to abide by any corrective action plan developed by the state and independent monitors and provided for compensatory education to all eligible children.

Plaintiffs and the CDE are negotiating an agreement to change California's monitoring system to the focused monitoring approach proposed by the plaintiffs in the Angel G. litigation. The CDE has taken substantial steps already to convert to this approach, including commitment to a pilot program to test whether it will result in greater compliance.

C. Development of More Effective Monitoring Systems A group of these experts convened by the plaintiffs designed a proposed focused monitoring system for Texas.[302] Known as the Chicago Group because the meeting was held in Chicago, these experts continue to flesh out the details of the system.[303] In addition, advocates and experts in the states of Texas, California, and Illinois are reviewing the proposed system to refine and delineate it and address the many related complex issues. The state of California has committed to adopting this focused monitoring system and planned to conduct its first pilot program in 1999. The following is an overview of the proposed focused monitoring system.

The Texas work articulated five principles that provide the underpinnings for an effective state IDEA monitoring system. The system must (1) address all legal requirements and educational results for students, (2) include public involvement, (3) build on existing student data to increase system efficiency, (4) direct resources to areas of greatest need, and (5) result in timely verification or enforcement of compliance. Their approach is based on the notion of continuous improvement with a data-based accountability system.[304]

The three components of the compliance monitoring system are (1) performance review, (2) policy review, and (3) complaint management. These three system components take place within the context of three ongoing activities: (1) the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD), (2) oversight and enforcement, and (3) data design, analysis, and review.[305]

At the heart of this system is the performance review process, which works as follows. The state agency conducts a performance review of each LEA. The outcome of the review is used by the SEA, in part, to place LEAs into one of four categories: (1) Continuous Improvement District --no additional compliance activities required by the state agency; (2) Data Validation District--sixty LEAs randomly selected annually to verify reported data and examine procedural compliance; (3) At-Risk District--self-study supplement to district improvement plan required; or (4) Focused-monitoring district--on-site investigation of specific areas of noncompliance conducted by the state.[306]

In order to determine the category of each LEA, the state must develop a template for analyzing special education performance data and measuring compliance. Critical variables or indicators must be determined. Variables could include measures of graduation rates, drop-out rates, academic achievement levels, and placement (LRE) data. Standards must be developed for three types of trigger values. The first trigger value, which would apply to each variable, is the "at-risk" trigger. This trigger identifies LEAs that are "at risk" in their performance in that area. Critical variables would receive one trigger in addition to the "at risk" trigger. The second trigger for critical variables is the focused monitoring trigger, which identifies the districts that will receive a focused monitoring visit. The third value is used as a benchmark for each critical variable. The benchmark serves as the statewide performance goal for the critical variables designed to improve the performance levels.[307]

The focused district monitoring occurs when an LEA exceeds the trigger for any critical data variable. The state creates an investigation plan that is tailored to the identified areas of noncompliance prior to the visit. The plan is individualized for each LEA and must incorporate several features including focusing on measurable data that indicate compliance or noncompliance with the identified issue, classroom observation, and input from parents and students. Districts that are designated as "at-risk" or "focused monitoring" must have plans for correcting areas of noncompliance. Technical assistance and personnel training should be provided to the LEA by the SEA if needed. The SEA must develop written procedures that outline the progression from noncompliance findings to enforcement so that they are consistently applied for each noncompliant LEA. These procedures should be clear to LEAs so that there is no doubt about the consequences for ongoing noncompliance.[308]

Likewise, the state must have a system of progressive sanctions to use whenever any LEA fails to correct noncompliance within a specific time line. The proposed range of sanctions is as follows in ascending order:

Mandatory First-Level Sanctions require the state to send a letter of continued noncompliance to all families of students with disabilities served by the LEA and members of the state legislature.

A public hearing is held by the district's school board and the noncompliance information is a consideration in the evaluation of the LEA superintendent and relevant principals.
Mandatory Second Level Sanctions, which are to be implemented within 60 days of the first level of sanctions if noncompliance continues, require lowered accreditation of the noncompliant LEA and suspension or termination of responsible administrative officials.

Mandatory Third Level Sanctions, which are imposed 60 days after Level 2 sanctions if noncompliance continues, require a choice of one of the following options: (1) transference of federal and state special education funds to a neighboring LEA for oversight of the provision of special education in the noncompliant district; (2) partial withholding of federal and state special education funds while the LEA must continue to provide required services; (3) withholding of all federal and state special education funds while the LEA must continue to provide required services; and (4) recovery by the state of previously awarded federal and state funds.[309] The elements of this proposed system have potential for correcting some long-standing weaknesses in Texas, California, and Illinois state monitoring. The proposed system has been implemented on a "pilot" basis only in California; more time is needed to test its effectiveness.

D. Findings and Recommendations

Finding # V.1 Parent advocacy and litigation have been critical means for exposing and remedying persistent and systemic IDEA noncompliance. The law depends on litigation in order to function effectively. Parents of children with disabilities are uniquely situated to identify and raise the legal issues related to persistent noncompliance with IDEA. Their financial situations, however, typically do not permit sustained private legal action, and not enough public resources are available to assist them.

Recommendation # V.1A Whenever Congress and the President approve an increase in the funding to be distributed to local schools under Part B of IDEA, Congress and the President should appropriate at the same time an amount equal to 10 percent of the total Part B increase to fund free or low-cost legal advocacy services to students with disabilities and their parents through public and private legal service providers, putting competent legal assistance within their financial reach and leveling the playing field between them and their local school districts. Litigation by parents is still a necessary recourse when administrative action at the state level to obtain FAPE for their child has failed. In some states, litigation has also been a vital catalyst to a more effective implementation of IDEA across the board. Access to legal assistance that could result in obtaining an appropriate education for their children remains beyond the financial reach of too many families. Federal funds currently available for low-cost legal services under the Developmental Disabilities Act, the Technical Assistance Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act must be supplemented to begin to address the need. This will be a start toward putting families on a more equal playing field with school districts that use tax dollars to hire legal counsel to assist them in avoiding compliance with IDEA requirements.

Recommendation # V.1B

OSEP should endorse the allocation of additional funding to public and private legal service providers, including the state PTIs, P&As, and IL centers, the private bar and nonprofit legal services centers, for the purpose of carrying out a coordinated strategy for making legal advocacy services more available to students with disabilities and their families.
Finding # V.2

Pilot programs in compliance monitoring and enforcement at the state level are testing the use of a broad range of flexible enforcement options in the context of corrective action plans linking specific noncompliance findings with agreed upon enforcement options and time lines.

Recommendation # V.2

OSEP should develop and test the use of state compliance agreements that incorporate appropriate sanctions selected from a broad range of enforcement options, and link them to the state's failure to correct specific noncompliant conditions within the agreed time frame. OSEP should also encourage the state's use of sanctions in this manner when the state's compliance monitoring indicates that LEAs are failing to correct findings of noncompliance.