State Says Haverhill Schools Showing Dramatic Progress in Special Education and Civil Rights

A Haverhill School Committee meeting. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The state says Haverhill schools have shown a marked improvement in the implementation of standards regarding special education and civil rights.

On Thursday, Deborah Ibanez, executive director of student support services for Haverhill schools, told the Haverhill School Committee the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education completed its most recent review of Haverhill school’s compliance in those two areas.

“Every three years, DESE want to look at two different things, special education, and there’s about 55 indicators that they look at. This time around, they picked 11 special ed indicators and, the same thing with the civil rights piece, 14 or 15 civil rights indicators,” she said.

Ibanez said the review began with a self-assessment in the spring of 2021. That data was then sent to the state which began a follow-up review of 10 schools by surveying students’ parents and observing classrooms and other facilities.

She said this year’s results showed 100% compliance in the area of special education and 94% compliance in the area of civil rights. By comparison, the special ed compliance rating in 2016 and 2019 were 52% and 88% respectively.

She explained the civil rights portion did not receive a 100% compliance rating because of a minor issue.

“We just didn’t have a list posted of what happens to students when they are expelled or long-term suspended. We’ve already sent a list to DESE and then we will be working closely with families to explain what the options are,” she explained.

Committee Members Richard J. Rosa and Paul A. Magliocchetti both expressed praise for Ibanez and her team for moving the ratings in the right direction.

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