Thursday, January 12, 2017

SPED Shenanigans Highlight Trouble with NOLA Charter Data - Living in Dialogue

SPED Shenanigans Highlight Trouble with NOLA Charter Data - Living in Dialogue:

SPED Shenanigans Highlight Trouble with NOLA Charter Data 

By John Thompson.
There are so many reasons why anyone interested in public education should read Marta Jewson’s latest expose of the high profile New Orleans SciTech Academy’s shenanigans when providing – and not providing – special education services. Readers should follow Jewson’s links and read The Lens’ entire series on the charter school. I’d particularly recommend her report on mid-year transfers of special education students, and ask whether it calls into question the latest research that supposedly indicates that better accountability systems can deter destructive practices of charters in New Orleans and elsewhere.
Jewson explains that the Louisiana Department of Education has found that one of NOLA’s largest charter operators, ReNEW Schools, inflated its special education needs in the 2014-15 school year, and denied students the specialized services that they deserved. The state investigation thus “found that ReNEW SciTech Academy had inflated how much extra attention it would provide to certain students, and then didn’t provide the extra help to those who really needed it.”
The state “report includes a sample of 52 education plans that were incomplete or inadequate,” and tracked down 62 kids who didn’t receive the extra instruction they needed. The state discovered that “SciTech employees planned to push as many students as they could through special-education evaluations in January 2015 ‘because school leadership had communicated that “thousands of dollars are on the line.”’”
In other words, the charter would be reimbursed for services for students who signed up by February 1, but it would not be obligated to serve those students if they then transferred. It’s no surprise that charters will enroll students before a deadline (most typically in the fall) and get paid for the entire year for students who they do not retain. However, the chronology which Jewson documents is especially important, and it should SPED Shenanigans Highlight Trouble with NOLA Charter Data - Living in Dialogue: