Los Angeles School District Report Still Leaves Questions

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

The Los Angeles Unified School District Office of the Independent Monitor has released the second part of its annual report to the superintendent and the Board of Education outlining the progress the district has made and the effectiveness of the implementation of the Modified Consent Decree, which includes a two-year plan with three specific targets for the district.

The plan was originally set to be completed by March 2015. However, that timeline was extended through the end of the 2015-16 school year, with the most recent update being given on June 20, 2016. Of the 35 actions outlined in the plan, the district states that five have yet to be dealt with. The five remaining actions require technology development in order to boost service tracking and self-monitoring.

According to the report, "Report on the Progress and Effectiveness of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Implementation of the Modified Consent Decree during the 2014-2015 School Year—Part 2," the two-year plan has now extended to reach three years. In that time, the district has not offered any evidence or documents that show any change to its policies, procedures, or practices from the requirements. Instead, they have just noted that the actions have been completed.

The Independent Monitor states that the district is required to provide these documents, reports, and updates when the actions are completed, or by Friday, July 29, 2016.

There are a number of areas noted by the IM that may be influencing the progress on the outcome. For example, the district shows low staffing levels. The recruitment plan suggests the district needs a high number of speech and language therapists, school psychologists, OTs, and adapted PE teachers. A staffing plan is necessary for uncovered schools as well as a contingency plan.

In addition, hundreds of special education teachers are needed throughout the district. It is projected that 625 such teachers are currently needed with another 850 needed for the 2016-17 school year.

While a report on the progress will not be made available until the fall of 2016, there have been ongoing efforts to monitor and track service delivery by related service providers, RSP teachers, SESC staff, site administrators, related service supervisors and coordinators. The authors note that a large amount of time and energy is spent on the weekly and monthly maintenance and monitoring of service delivery.

The IM reported concerns pertaining to the shortage of qualified teachers and related service providers within the district, stating that they expect to be kept updated on recruitment plans and any anticipated shortages for the 2016-17 school year.

The report states that site visits continue to show problems that could be stopping program accessibility as well as poor planning and management of limited resources. It says that the quality control processes outlined within the Districtwide Transition Plan have not been consistently followed.

Despite the progress made, the IM is still concerned about the district's lack of communication and engagement. Plans to meet with district staff to discuss validate any reported progress are in the works.

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