In a previous post, we talked about how Clear Creek ISD has nearly failed to care for its special education students – the most vulnerable population. Well, if you think that after the Gibson report they’d be chomping at the bit to rectify the situation and ensure a quality education for these kids, you’d be very wrong.
According to the Board of Trustees April 8, 2019 approved workshop minutes, it will take three years to implement all the recommendations in the Gibson report. (Keep reading; I’ll pull out the lowlights.) Three years. That could be an entire middle school experience for some of these children. That could be their first experience in school as kindergarteners. That could be the last three years of high school.
And you know why? Because CCISD has some serious problems with how it treats its special education students. The Gibson report is a 117-page report. Some of the big things CCISD is failing at are:
- Special education students are still behind state targets in some areas. Compare that to how CCISD one of the top districts overall in Texas.
- Response to Intervention (RtI) is not implemented consistently, nor with fidelity. This is the District’s pre-referral strategy, and they can’t get it right across the campuses.
- There are not enough opportunities for special education teachers and professionals to continue sharpening their education, nor do they have opportunities to learn about specific needs.
- CCISD has some potential compliance risks related to the disproportionate representation of some subgroups in special education and in discretionary disciplinary placements. (In other words, it punishes special education students more harshly.)
There are 27 recommendations in the Gibson report. A lot of it is related to actually monitoring what goes on in the classrooms, which is absolutely necessary. We’ve had reports of elementary schools calling the sheriff on autistic children, children being restrained, and children being injured. And not just being restrained once a day, but up to 15 times a day. There is currently no formal procedure for documenting time-outs, but the Gibson report recommended that CCISD do so. (For the record, restraining and isolating children is absolutely not a time-out and is against the law.)
But that can’t happen if CCISD doesn’t do something about its inability to use recording devices. (No, Jay Cunningham isn’t the only one that can’t operate a recording device.) As special education parents have reported, footage of their children being bullied by other students or abused by staff members has magically been deleted. Never mind that these parents have documented their children’s injuries; CCISD somehow manages to sweep it all under the proverbial rug.
CCISD also needs to be better at communicating with parents. (This isn’t a shocker; CCISD is almost comically bad at parent communications.) The Gibson report recommended creating a special education parent resource center, as well as provide more relevant information to parents and communicate with them about their children’s behavioral and academic performance.
Apparently, they weren’t even doing that before the special education audit. Shameful. Just the fact that the firm had to recommend that CCISD provide draft IEPs and other relevant materials to parents within the required timeline says it all.
It is heartbreaking. Heartbreaking that in a district with so much money, it can’t ensure that its employees are getting adequate training. Heartbreaking that it took months before someone finally took the special education parents seriously. And if it hadn’t been for them banding together and renting a billboard, would anything have been done? Would Gibson have been called in?
And these parents and children will still have to wait three years for the situation to be fully rectified.