Schools May Hire SpEd Officer to Meet State Compliance Goals

Haverhill Public Schools may address concerns over tracking of special education students’ Individual Education Programs (IEP) by adding a compliance officer to work specifically in its special education department.

Haverhill Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) Co-Chairs Lisa Brady and Jessica Collins appeared before the school committee Thursday night to offer the group’s periodic feedback on IEP compliance and other issues facing special education parents. During the meeting, Superintendent James F. Scully described IEP compliance as “a major problem for us.”

“We’ve addressed that, we met with the state on it. We just are deficient in our compliance and so we’re probably going to have to get a compliance officer just for special education because it’s a growing issue for us,” Scully said.

Brady said there are 1,787 Haverhill students with special ed IEPs and they have most recently heard concerns of difficulties.

“With almost 1,800 IEPs it’s hard to keep track of all those goals and dates and activities. By keeping things in compliance, everything runs a lot more smoothly. Goals are reached, frustrations are lessened between parents and teachers and students. But with the volume of students we have on IEPs, it’s diffucult for the administration to keep on top of that. So that is a very consistent concern we hear from parents,” Brady said.

According to the school department’s special education handbook, an IEP is created “to meet the unique needs of the student” after a determination special education services are required “to ensure students with disabilities have the same educational opportunities as their peers.”

Brady and Collins, who joined the Haverhill SEPAC last August, also asked the committee for help to expand awareness of its parental resource outreach efforts on the web and other means. Members, including Paul A. Magliocchetti, also urged them to return more often and “don’t be afraid to show up and give feedback” during budget time.

“I think between the eight or nine of us we probably have about 13,000 Facebook friends that we can share with you. This is one topic that you have a united front,” Magliocchetti said.  “I don’t think there is anyone... very few people, if any, that would not help you out. So, don’t be afraid to ask. I will be trying to join and when I see posts on social media I will make sure to share it for you. I have no problem doing that and I’m sure everyone here feels the same way.”

The committee and school leaders also pledged to help parents in the special education community possibly expand opportunities for their children participating in community and athletic programs.