State Dept. of Ed. Visiting Haverhill Next Week to Assess Special Education Programs, Student Rights

(WHAV News file photograph.)

Representatives from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plan to visit Haverhill next week for a regularly scheduled assessment of the district that happens once every six years. In an effort to monitor compliance with federal and state English learner education laws, civil rights and special education programs, the DESE group plans to visit most, but not all, of Haverhill’s schools.

In addition to auditing classes and interviewing teachers, the state agency intends to conduct parent surveys and interviews, DESE spokeswoman Jackie Reis told WHAV.

This month’s visit follows one in 2013, after which a three-member panel issued a report of findings and action items to then-Superintendent James F. Scully.

Findings at the time included the lack of appropriate certification for social workers, guidance counselors, nurses and other service providers across the district. DESE also flagged the fact that, through student records and interviews, they found special education students at Pentucket Lake Elementary School do not have the opportunity to participate in music or gym programs, among others.

Over the last several years, Haverhill Public Schools has turned around their previous DESE criticism in regards to behavior intervention programs. Since then, several city schools—including Tilton School—have prioritized positive behavioral interventions and supports, a technique dubbed PBIS, for all students.

A report from the upcoming state visit is expected in May.

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