By Staff –
A committee has been appointed to review the Rochester City School District’s policies on special education, and the committee will present its preliminary findings to the RCSD Board of Education this week.
Members of the school board, along with the Empire Justice Center, have put the committee together, which included parents of students with disabilities, community members, and district staff, after EJC threatened to file suit against the district due to its non-compliance.
School Board Commissioner Melanie Funchess has chaired the committee.
“Based on the review, the Special Committee concluded that there are wide-spread and very serious problems in virtually every aspect of the District’s special education programs and services,” the report said. “These problems both lead to non-compliance with the District’s legal obligations and perhaps, more importantly, to the predictable failure of students with disabilities to succeed to the extent to which they are capable.”
The findings have also cited special education students’ low levels of academic achievement, as well as the district’s lack of sufficient programs and services to meet the projected needs for those students as two of the major problems the district currently faces.
“Students with disabilities are suspended at disproportional rates, and receive harsher penalties than non-classified students,” as well, the report said.
Ultimately, the committee has recommended the district commit to becoming fully-compliant within the next three years, and that the district make its commitment legally-binding by authorizing a legal consent decree to authorize those changes.
The report has also suggested the district appoint an outside monitor to oversee RCSD’s “compliance activities.’
Following the committee’s presentation of its findings, the school board will reportedly vote to decide whether to approve the group’s recommendations by the end of this month.