Even with recent weather and snow days causing a “bump in the road,” interim director of exceptional education Susan Downs said Davenport Schools are still on track to finish its individualized education plans (IEP) evaluations by the state’s deadline.
“As we’ve reached out to buildings, buildings say it’s going to be tight, but they should be able to meet the April 23 deadline,” Downs said at the school board meeting Monday night. “We may have to offer some support with AEA on that. Right now, we’re feeling like we can meet that deadline.”
While the state department of education set the deadline at April 23, Sandy Schmitz, the implementation adviser assigned to the district by the state, said they had hoped and planned to finish before then, prior to the snow days in the last few weeks.
“We have a very carefully crafted schedule, pending any unforeseen things that are beyond our control,” she said. “But we also had a little bit of cushion.”
Interim superintendent TJ Schneckloth said Schmitz, working on behalf of the state to rectify the district's past citations for failing to fulfill IEPs, is a reliable evaluator of Davenport's progress.
“We have an internal auditor with us every single day,” he said. “I promise you she’s not easy on us. If she sees something that needs to be corrected, she corrects it on the spot. … She is the voice of the state, and she does not want to go back to the state and give a false report, because that would be on her.”
Downs said her team was working toward implementing a parent survey on how the process is going, something that has been requested by board members in past meetings.
“A person from my department is working with IT so we can get this sent out in the next couple of weeks,” Downs said.
Board director Julie DeSalvo expressed concern about accessibility, which Downs also acknowledged.
“Some people don’t have access electronically, and I’m very concerned about that,” DeSalvo said. “I want this to be broad enough that everyone can respond to this anonymously.
Physical copies of the survey could also be distributed, Downs said. One of the potential problems addressed by IT was how to ensure individuals don’t fill it out multiple times.
If two parents live in different households but share parental responsibilities, Downs said both would be contacted about the survey.
While Schmitz acknowledged the reevaluations were a “heavy lift,” there were “teams and teams” of people working on it every day.
“If the Department of Education didn’t believe that that number of kids could have been completed by April 23, there would have been further negotiations about that,” she said.