The Mt. Diablo School District hired MGT of America, a consultant firm, to perform a study of their Special Education Services/Programs. The report has been received and recommendations include the complete dismantling of the Special Education/Student Services Department. Instead, there would be:
- One Director.
- Three Program Specialists to train site staff.
- ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) to be handled by the district legal counsel.
Principals to take on the primary role of program management for their special education/504 students.
In addition to the increased responsibilities they have acquired due to staff reductions, Principals would now be responsible for special education/504 student services/programs.
- Can our Principals handle this extra responsibility?
- How much time will be taken away from the everyday management of their site due to this additional responsibility?
- Are our Principals knowledgeable in State/Federal laws regarding the district’s responsibility for serving our students with special needs?
- With only one Assistant Director for special education under the Curriculum and Instruction department, who will provide necessary support/guidance to our Principals and staff?
- Will Principals be able to learn every aspect of every disability to be able to confidently place and serve every special ed./504 child placed at their site?
- Currently there are different programs at different sites. Will Principals know which students should be placed in which programs?
- Who will coordinate the related service providers i.e., speech/OT/PT/Nursing?
- When it is time for students with special needs to transition from preschool to elementary to middle to high school, how will the Principals know which sites to assign the transitioning students. Or will every site have full time staff to provide all the programs/services every student in their school will need? Who will coordinate?
- MGT is also recommending the elimination of the Mental Health Collaborative and placing these students in their home schools with a site clinician. The MH Collaborative is supported and paid, approximately 95%, by County Mental Health Services. If students are placed back at their home schools, County Mental Health will not provide services to these students due to their own budget restraints. Will the district hire therapists at each site to provide the services these students require? How will Principals deal with these students placed on their campuses? Whose safety will be compromised?
Why would the board of education implement these recommendations?
- Cost of the study was over $99,000. If the district does not implement the recommendations, will their constituents complain about the dollars spent?
- They do not understand what is cost effective vs. more costly.
- They would not have to admit their failure in not adequately using their resources in the district to determine reductions without compromising the integrity and compliance of the program.
o Did they request specific budget reductions from qualified staff in the district?
o Did they ask the CAC to assist them in developing specific recommendations?
o Have they factored in the “Cost of Reconstruction” after they butcher the foundation of the consent decree?
o Have they factored in long term costs onto the cuts for a “real value”?
Why should the board of education NOT implement MGT’s recommendations?
- MGT of America is a consulting firm based out of Florida who apparently does not understand California law or Mt. Diablo’s philosophy of providing required services to students with special needs.
- Implementing MGT’s philosophy would be jeopardizing the health and welfare of all students, special ed. and general ed. by placing students in improperly supervised programs.
- The recommendations are not appropriate for our district needs.
- Programs could potentially go out of compliance due to lack of program knowledge.
- Lack of support will lead to more litigation.
- Costs of mismanagement will “encroach” on the general ed. fund.
- Parents will not request ADR from the District’s legal counsel; therefore, parents will file directly to the State and legal costs will skyrocket.
- Most important, it is not good for kids - all of our kids!
It took 10 years with a Consent Decree for Mt. Diablo to build an infrastructure that is in compliance and working. If we follow MGT’s recommendations and restructure, it will definitely bring about noncompliance and millions in litigation costs.
We need to act responsibly. The board, district staff and parents need to work together to determine the most appropriate way to reduce costs without reducing compliance and jeopardizing the safety of all of our students.
To view the complete report, you can go to the Mt. Diablo School District’s website at http://www.mdusd.org/ and look under the Board of Education Agenda or the CAC blog at http://www.mtdiablosped.blogspot.com/. I am also attaching the report to this email. (see agenda: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=281)
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Dr. Steven Lawrence
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