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OUSD special education legal woes on the rise?

Guest blogger Stacey Smith is an OUSD parent and volunteer who has served on several district committees, including the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. What she writes about does not reflect the view of any group.

The Oakland Unified School District’s 2011-2016 Strategic Plan calls for “a significant decrease in the number of special education litigious and non-compliant cases” by 2015-2016, a legal problem the district blames on negative relationships and communications with parents and the community.

Unfortunately, data so far shows that non-complaint cases and litigation have remained the same or increased, attorneys’ fees are up about 50 percent, and the real problem may be program implementation and lack of critical student support.

Let me explain:

OUSD has long complained about the high cost of special education litigation and compliance complaints, claiming these costs create a barrier to providing better special education. The goal it developed is hard to measure when there are no specific numbers, dollar figures or percentages included as part of the goal — or even a description of how OUSD defines “litigious cases.”

But it’s budget time again. It seems like a good time to talk about how OUSD is progressing toward this vague goal and how that could affect spending decisions for 2013-14. This isn’t just an exercise in data crunching – there is a real child with special needs behind each case.

I’ve heard of a few high-cost civil cases over the years, and I wasn’t able to collect that data for this exercise. But if we’re going to talk about large numbers of cases that could generate high expense to the district and be targets for reduction, we should look at the two most common types of cases in special education: compliance complaints and due process filings.

In general, a compliance complaint is used when the district hasn’t fulfilled its commitment to the student or when it hasn’t followed specific special education laws or procedures. For example: not providing a translator for an IEP meeting, or not providing an aide or services the IEP says a student is supposed to have. Due process is for things like a disagreement about what goes into the Individual Education Plan, or IEP, or where the student will be placed. (There’s overlap between the two legal options and it’s confusing to everyone, so just know that from here on in if I refer to “compliance” I’m talking about compliance complaint data.)

OUSD’s strategic plan suggests that special education compliance complaints and litigation are directly linked to a lack of positive relationships and communications (Strategic Plan Focus 2C.6). Improve relationships, decrease complaints, decrease costs—so goes the district’s theory. CDE was unable to provide data on why due process cases were filed, but I received all the alleged compliance violations listed for the compliance complaints. Wonder if OUSD’s theory holds up?

Not really, according to data provided by the California Department of Education. The number one reason OUSD has been found out of compliance since 2008 has been the district’s failure to implement a student’s IEP. Last year this violation was cited in half the non-complaint cases.

This isn’t about relationships.

In fact all of the different compliance violations the California Department of Education found would have had a negative impact on the student’s special education supports or the creation of a meaningful IEP. The data suggests an ongoing failure by the district to provide the resources needed to help these students – repeatedly and over a long period of time.

OUSD says that the figures it used to develop the plan were 17 compliance cases and 20 litigation cases. OUSD hasn’t provided specifics on the figure it used for non-compliant cases, despite repeated requests. The numbers the district provides are perplexing because the strategic plan was initiated in 2009-10 and designed in 2010-11, but OUSD’s numbers don’t match the data from the Department of Education.

However, compliance complaints and due process filings seem to have since increased beyond those figures, especially if  due process filings and civil cases are included. It’s hard to predict what will happen during the remainder of this school year and beyond but right now it looks like OUSD isn’t on track to meet its goal.

Let’s talk money. Noncompliance has real costs, not only in terms of support not provided to students who need it, but also in terms of expense to the district.

If the Department of Education finds OUSD is out of compliance, it orders the district to fix the situation within a certain amount of time. Sometimes the department orders compensatory education or monetary reimbursement to families. For example, a family might pay for services the district failed to provide and then seek to reclaim that money. Compensatory education can also be a big expense, especially if it is provided by an outside agency. It doesn’t happen all the time; some Department of Education findings seem to just tell OUSD to start following the law and sometimes the district will correct the problem before the department orders action.

Due process is harder to quantify because the parties often settle before a hearing. Maybe the Office of Administrative Hearings could provide some clarification, but OUSD often imposes a gag order on families for both due process and compliance complaint resolutions so it doesn’t seem to want that information to get out. I was able to identify one due process hearing decision between 2010 and October 2012 with an expense to OUSD. The district was ordered to provide 255 hours of compensatory education to a student through a nonpublic agency with no other reimbursement costs. It seems fair to assume that there would be other OUSD expense as part of these confidential resolutions, too.

In addition, from 2009-2012, OUSD spent a half million dollars on attorneys’ fees. Over half of that sum covered families’ attorney fees. Unfortunately, OUSD did not separate out the different types of litigation in the spreadsheet they provided, so we know the expense but not how it was incurred. We also know the current 2012-13 special education budget allocates $350,000 for legal fees and $383,277 for “Payment to Family in Lieu Of” but not the basis for these budget figures. It’s like piecing together a puzzle, isn’t it?

The district has not answered my requests to produce a complete estimate of the cost of complaints and litigation, which would include OUSD personnel costs, the contractor fees for things like compensatory education, training and materials, and reimbursement outlays. If they are not tracking these items closely, they should be. These are the true costs that are hurting the program. Based only on the data available, the implied expense is staggering both in terms of time and money.

It also seems that legal costs are not the cause of failure to provide service, as the district so often claims, but rather they are the consequence of that failure. There will always be a few disgruntled people, but noncompliance seems too widespread to blame OUSD’s legal woes solely on poor communication or relationships.

An analysis of the data and information from OUSD staff show a systemic failure by the district to meet its obligations, repeatedly and often avoidably. Sometimes, even intentionally. One former special education director told me her policy was to never go to due process. She would let an issue go until the last possible minute and then resolve it before a formal hearing. It was a bet that most families would fold before making it that far, even when the district was at fault. It worked, but how much did that strategy cost the district during her tenure? How much did it cost the students? Is the strategy still used today?

When OUSD doesn’t fulfill its obligations, it reduces a student’s chance to be successful. That is the ultimate cost, which causes a ripple effect in the classroom, the school community and beyond. OUSD has had five special education directors in the last seven years and the position is open yet again. All of these folks have tried to address the situation to some extent, along with some extraordinary staff who struggle on through the ongoing lack of stability and uncertainty. But until program and budget decisions stop being imposed on the department, as they have for years with no regard for actual need, and until OUSD has the will to tackle the issue of support for these students district-wide, I’m afraid we’ll continue to see both the problems and the expense imposed by these conditions.

What do you think?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nontcair

    OUSD can’t even teach the 3R’s to “normal” kids.

    Why would anyone believe that OUSD can succeed with special ed students?

  • http://hotmail Mark

    We all believe good teaching can happen, otherwise we would just be complainers who tend to just offer bad news instead of constructive ideas for the care of children. Some O.U.S.D. teachers are truly wonderful. There are some out there. We must learn from them. They probably do not read this blog because of negative comments like the ones stated by Nontcair in box #51.

  • Nontcair

    Previously in this tread (#s 36 &
    38), I demonstrated how public education is actually a jobs
    program. Here is a more accurate analysis:
    Each September another wave of
    kids/victims (“The Class of 20XX”) begins first grade. We
    can model this as a series of time-delayed, unit impulses, weighted
    by S0
    (the # of
    students who enter 1st grade. That is,
                       ∞
    x(t)=
    S0
    x
    Σ
    δ(t-n)
                 n=
    -∞

    where S0 = is
    the number of students who show up for first grade in the Fall.
    In the absence of truancy laws, it’s
    not unreasonable to assume that ½ of those kids will dropout
    by the the age of 14. We can model the impulse response as a simple
    exponential. That is,

    h(t)= exp [rt]
    An eight year, 50% overall dropout rate
    corresponds to a decay (APR) of around 8.7%. That is,

    r= -0.087
    The
    total number of kids in grades 1-8 at any given time is the sum of
    all the outputs generated by all the inputs, viz. the “convolution”.
    That is,

    y(t)=
    x(t) ⊗ h(t)
    Public
    education can be modeled as a linear, time-invariant system (LTI). We
    know that the impulse response of a LTI , delayed by some amount n,
    is simply h(t-n).
    That is, exp [rt]
    → exp [r(t-n)]
    Therefore,
    starting at year 0 (“causality”), the total number of
    students in grades 1-8 would be:
                         7
    y(t)=    S0
    x
    Σ
    exp
    [r(t-n)],
    where n <= t < 8
                       n=
    0
    For
    example,

    y(0.0)=
    S0
    x
    exp [r(0-0)]
    = S0

    y(0.5)=
    S0
    x
    exp [r(t-n)]
    = S0
    x
    exp [-0.087 (0.5-0)] = S0
    x
    0.96
    y(1.0)=
    S0
    x
    ( exp [-0.087 (1.0-0)] + exp [-0.087 (1.0-1)] = S0
    x
    ( 0.92 + 1) ) = S0
    x
    1.92
    y(5.8)=
    S0
    x
    ( exp [-0.087 (5.8-0)] + exp [-0.087 (5.8-1)] + exp [-0.087 (5.8-2)]
    + exp [-0.087 (5.8-3)] + exp [-0.087 (5.8-4)] + exp [-0.087 (5.8-5)]
    ) = S0
    x
    ( 0.60 + 0.66 + 0.72 + 0.78 + 0.86 + 0.93 ) = S0
    x
    4.55
    y(7.0)=
    S0
    x
    ( exp [-0.087 (7.0-0)] + exp [-0.087 (7.0-1)] + exp [-0.087 (7.0-2)]
    + exp [-0.087 (7.0-3)] + exp [-0.087 (7.0-4)] + exp [-0.087 (7.0-5)]
    + exp [-0.087 (7.0-6)] + exp [-0.087 (7.0-7)] ) = S0
    x
    ( 0.54 + 0.59 + 0.65 + 0.71 + 0.77 + 0.84 + 0.92 + 1) = S0
    x
    6.02
    NOTE:
    y(7.0) is the interesting periodic, equilibrium max
    (September) case wherein grades 1-8 would all be in full operation.
    During the course of the school year, a certain percentage of 8th
    graders would themselves leave, until hitting the periodic,
    equilibrium min at y(8.0).
    y(8.0)=
    S0
    x
    ( exp [-0.087 (8.0-0)] + exp [-0.087 (8.0-1)] + exp [-0.087 (8.0-2)]
    + exp [-0.087 (8.0-3)] + exp [-0.087 (8.0-4)] + exp [-0.087 (8.0-5)]
    + exp [-0.087 (8.0-6)] + exp [-0.087 (8.0-7)] ) = S0
    x
    ( 0.50 + 0.54 + 0.59 + 0.65 + 0.71 + 0.77 + 0.84 + 0.92 ) = S0
    x
    5.52
    Using
    a similar model for the motivated group of 8th graders who
    would choose to go on to high school:
                               S9th=
    S0 x
    0.50
    r
    = -0.347
    (50% dropout after two years)
    NOTE:
    by age 16, those who’d choose to further their education would go on
    to junior college. My model sort of predicts that only the top 10% of
    students would ultimately enter a 4 yr institution such as UC.
                              1
    y(8+t)=
    S9th x
    Σ exp [r(t-n)],
    where n <= t < 10, yields the following:
                           n=
    0
    y(8+0)
    = S9th
    x
    ( exp [-0.347 (0.0-0)] ) = S9th
    y(8+1)
    = S
    9th
    x
    ( exp [-0.347 (1.0-0)] + exp [-0.347 (1.0-1)] = S9th
    x
    ( 0.71 + 1) ) = S9th
    x
    1.71 (max)
    y(8+2)
    = S
    9th
    x
    ( exp [-0.347 (2.0-0)] + exp [-0.347 (2.0-1)] ) = S9th
    x
    1.21 (min)
    Conclusion:
    in a more rational system of public education, one which is designed
    to teach kids who actually want
    to
    go to school to really learn something, in school grades where such
    instruction would be useful and appropriate (grades 1-10), the
    high-water mark of students enrolled (ST)
    would only be
                                           (S0
    x
    6.02) + (S9th
    x
    1.71)
    Here
    in CA, S0
    is about 212,000 and is S9th
    is 106,000, so therefore
    ST
    = 1,276,240 + 181,260 = 1,457,500
    kids
    To
    be continued …

  • Nontcair

    YEEK! What a mess.

  • Nontcair

    Here’s what you need to remember: A pretty sound model for a rational public education system is:

    – given the choice, only *half* the kids who currently enter CA 1st grade (for “free”) would sign up (modest fee-for-service)

    – over the grade 1-8 years, 50% of kids would stop. The rest would go on to 9th grade

    – over the grade 9-10 years, 50% of *those* kids would stop

    In math terms, y(t)= x(t) ⊗ h(t). That is,

    S(t)= s x Σ exp [r(t-n)], where

    x(t)= s x δ(t) (delta function)
    h(t)= exp [rt] (exponential)
    r= -0.087, for 0 <= t < 8 (50% decay from G 1-8)
    r= -0.347, for 8 <= t < 9 (50% decay from G 9-10)
    s= CA 1st graders, for 0 <= t < 8, = 212K
    s= CA 9th graders, for 8 <= t < 10 = 106K
    0 <= n < t

    Only the top 12% of all 11th graders could be expected to go on to JC (prior to a 4yr university).

  • Nontcair

    Continuing on, going into year 9, when grades 1-10 would be in full operation, we can calculate that CA would have:

    1,276,240 (G 1-8)
    181,260 (G 9-10)

    for a peak demand total of:

    1,457,500

    motivated kids signed up for primary/secondary public education.

    The question is: How many teachers does CA need to satisfy that real demand for education services?

    As explained in #36, on the average, conservatively, kids in the primary grades probably would only purchase:

    100 min/w, for 35w

    Moving up to high school, those kids could be expected to purchase the equivalent of ~6 college credit hours per year. That is,

    180 min/w, for 26w

    That gives subtotals of:

    1,276,240 * 100m * 35w = 74,447,333 hrs (G 1-8)
    181,260 * 180m * 26w = 14,138,280 (G 9-10)

    for a DEMAND grand total of:

    88,585,613 hr/yr

    As explained in #36, a competent tutor can work 2,000 hours per year. Therefore, the true demand for school teachers in this state is about:

    44,293 FTE tutors per year.

    Keep in mind that would be for one-on-one instruction provided by teachers who would be paid for producing *results*.

    For group instruction, divide by the class size. For example, at 12:1 the number of FTE teachers required falls to just 3,691.

  • Nontcair

    As I wrote in #36, CA employs about 275,000 teachers, plus at least that many non-teaching staff.

    At 1:1, conservatively, that’s almost 12X the number of employees actually required.

    At 12:1, the taxpayer abuse ratio rises to a whopping nearly 140X.

    Like I started out by saying. As I’ve been saying. As I’ll *continue* to say: Public education is a JOBS program.

  • Nontcair

    One correction: my model is for a 100% private education system.

    Those 12X/140X ratios represent how many MORE education workers are required under a compulsory, “free”, public education system compared to what we’d have under a 100% private (and price competitive) one.

  • http://hotmail Mark

    In response to you “Nontcair” in your boxes of words and numbers #52,53,54,55,56,57,and 58. You are wrong. You state “public education is just a jobs program,” And you attempt to use numbers to prove out your statement.

    Do you have children. I do. The child looks up to the teacher and there is an importance to what is done each day at school. The job is not just a job, but something more important in the hearts and minds of children. Jobs program. No. It is much more to many teachers. Perhaps not all, but many.

    I do agree that some jobs can be simplified, some trainings scrapped so that teachers can be awarded more precious time to pre-plan exciting lessons or get things set up for a science presentation and hands on challenge that is safe and well organized.

    Sure, many up above teacher level get paid too much, and they tend to fly away when things get bad. Sure many like to hire more and more helpers outside of the classroom to do more studies and amass more knowledge.

    In that sense, above the role of the teacher, yes, it is and can be a jobs program.

    Some say, O.U.S.D. should be offered freedom on any outstanding State or Federal loans, sort of like a clean slate for the future. That may happen.

    But before it does, let us hope the interm superintendent and the new superintendent will start to clean up shop. To clean up shop that leader will need to get rid of waste, help teachers more with giving them more time to do their job well, monitor all administrators to ensure they are helping teachers, and get rid of all weekly administrator meetings for principals and vice principals and begin to have them after school is dismissed so that they can tend to the farm.

  • Nontcair

    Here’s one more improvement to my model; there’s no need to respond directly.

    As noted in #s 53 & 56, at equilibrium, the number of kids in grades 1-10 oscillate between max/min values of 1,457,500/1,298,500 kids.

    When I estimated the FTE teachers required to satisfy the demand, I based it on the peak* value (1.46M). That’s too *high*.

    I should have used the (weighted) average value:

    Avg#= S * 1/T ∫ y(t) = S x (1/|r|) x (1 – exp [r])

    I’ll take a shortcut and just integrate from the peak value(s) over a one year time period:

    Avg1= MAX8 * 0.958 (r= -0.087, t= 7) = 1,222,638
    Avg2= MAX10 * 0.845 (r= -0.347, t= 9) = 153,165

    AVG= 1,375,803 students

    Plug-in the numbers (if you care).

  • Nontcair

    #59 wrote: you attempt to use numbers to prove out your statement

    My model represents my *view* of reality. I’m the first to admit that a model doesn’t “prove” anything, though it would be nice to get some empirical data to test it against.

    For example, OUSD enrolls about 46,000 students (including charter schools); each year roughly 4,200 kids enter first grade. If by some miracle the local (draft) board today voted to effectively abolish OUSD, my model predicts that:

    – come September, only about 2,100 Oakland 6 yr olds would retain (paid) tutorial services

    – 8 years later, only about 2,100*6.02 = 12,642 kids (ages 6-14) would do so

    – 2 years after that, only about 2,100 * 0.5 * 1.71 = 1,796 kids (ages 14-16) would do so

    – at the 10 year milestone, only ~14,438 Oakland kids would be using paid tutorial services.

    [assuming zero population growth, and all that]

    Of course in such a relatively small sample, my figures could be a bit off. A real test of the model would require a much larger population sample, like the school age kids in the *entire* state of CA.

  • http://hotmail Mark

    Another point about the above report that pulls no punches.

    I was listening to a man who worked with Steve Jobs on the radio this week. He said that one of the best things about Jobs as a leader was, he did not put any emotion or feelings attached to problems. He expected his workers to overcome their emotions and instead be big enough to focus on the problem(s).

    That is what is needed for O.U.S.D. Special Education department. I say hire two leaders. Put one in charge of K-6 grade and another in charge of 7-12 grade. Then each Special Ed. leader can set up shop to get the problems handled.

    I wish as a citizen to thank the lady, Ms. Marilyn K. Shepherd for carefully writing a report that is clean, clean, and devoid of emotion.

    I think the previous Special Ed. Director did not have that kind of report to get moving in the proper direction.

    Such a report by Ms. Marilyn K. Shepherd helps both children and adults get a start on making improvements for the O.U.S.D. future.

    Thank you Ms. Shepherd, I have never met you, but I like the way you do your job!

    By the way, there are two reports one can view if you go to the O.U.S.D. web site and go to the Sp. Ed. department. Both reports can be viewed on your computer.

    We should thank the interm Superintendent and School Board Trustees for paying Ms. Shepherd and others to do such reports. I think some of the report of course came from the outgoing Sp. Ed. director too. I am sure she was trying to help out etc.

  • Qing

    http://aimfacts.com/
    http://www.dacbond.com/dacContent/doc.jsp?id=0900bbc780115c3e
    Mr. John Chiang, California State Controller reported in May, 2013 OUSD was non-compliant for the 2010-2011 Financial and Compliance Audit. The 2011-12 audit results are still unknown at this time. In the 296 page report, OUSD was cited for non-compliance instances some affecting hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.
    we need to voice out to the public OUSD abuse the tax payer money. Our tax money should go to our kids education.

  • mark

    WITH REGARD TO ALL THINGS SPECIAL EDUCATION FOR OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. ALL PARENTS, TEACHERS, AND THOSE FROM THE COMMUNITY,

    PLEASE READ THE REPORT POSTED ON THE OUSD WEBSITE ABOUT THE RECENT REVIEW FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION:

    THE REPORT WAS PAID FOR WITH PUBLIC MONIES; HERE IS HOW YOU GET TO IT.

    GO TO OUSD WEBSITE.

    CLICK ON DEPARTMENTS ON THE TOP

    CLICK ON “SPECIAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT”

    LOOK TO LEFT AND CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING REPORT:

    Oakland
    Unified
    School
    District
    Special
    Education
    Review

    June
    2013
    Dr.
    Marilyn
    K.
    Shepherd

    THIS REPORT SHINES LIGHT ON ISSUES WITH THE ENTIRE DEPARTMENT. PLEASE READ IT AND SHARE WITH OTHERS TO HELP IMPROVE THE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS.

    Mark

  • mark

    Well it is near the start of the 2013 school year and it looks like this blog is not being updated any more. For more than three months, there has been no new blog posts. I called the newspaper and spoke with many people, including some key decisionmakers, or so I thought, I may have even spoke with the owner herself, but the bottom line, is, I suggested that at least once a month the newspaper try to post a new blog on anything.

    To no avail it looks like.

    If the same post appears for more than three months then people will not check back to check this blog.

    Mark

  • Jim Mordecai

    If this blog was being updated one new subject that would need to be covered is that on August 6, 2013 Obama Administration approved a one–year NCLB waiver request for eight school districts including the Oakland Unified School District.

    There are some unusual aspects of this waiver request in that all NCLB waiver requests until now have been granted to state governments. This waiver request was initiated by a consortium of eight school superintendents calling themselves California Office to Reform Education (CORE; and in theory representing the eight superintendents’ districts.

    I said in theory representing their districts because at least in Oakland (and in some other CORE districts) the local school board had never acted to support the waiver by a public vote. Oakland is in the strange situation of being granted a Federal waiver but it has never authorized applying for the waiver.

    Only school boards can make policy and superintendent without authorization to applying for a Federal perhaps raises a legal issue as to whether CORE had standing in applying for waivers from districts such as Oakland that had not authorized the waiver request.

    A second legal question would be does a district have legal standing to ratify a waiver they never authorized? In Oakland Federal waiver requests until now had always involved a public vote by the Oakland School Board and the California Department of Education signing off on all Federal waiver applications.

    This strange situation is made even more complicated because the Oakland District Administration is acting like it plans to commit to following the CORE waiver without the School Board discussing what are the advantages and disadvantages for implementing the waiver and ratifying the granted application.
    Money is always an issue and commitment to using the waiver might mean unexpected cost. For example, the future cost of belonging to CORE and paying its administrative overhead is unknown?

    A waiver commitment is a completely newly made up Title I evaluation system with a variety of stakeholders working in a committee that will have undetermined overhead cost. Historically, Title I Federal funding administrative overhead was split between the California State Department of Education and state districts. Local district personnel will have to take over the role the California State Department played in administering Title I funding and compliance. The cost of upgrading local personnel in training and
    understanding new roles is unknown.

    Districts implementing the waiver will likely enjoy getting the opportunity to control how Federal mandated money for Title I students for mandatory tutoring and transportation is spent. However, most contracts for after school tutoring and transportation have been already voted on by the District for the 2013-14 school-year and the waiver is for only one school-year. Districts gaining control over significant amounts of Title I money would not likely come starting with the second year if a waiver is renewed.

    But, the granting of the waiver was conditional and one of the challenging conditions is that the CORE waiver requires districts to establish evaluation systems that link principal/teacher evaluation to student test scores. U.S. Department of Education is not going to renew the waiver if the evaluation piece hasn’t been negotiated. There is a good chance a lot of confusion and work by District personnel will be wasted if the waiver has only a one year stand.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    No Bureaucrat Left Behind

  • J.R.

    Support the intellectually less fortunate, because paper-pushing bureaucrats need to eat too!!

  • J.R.

    Non,
    Did you notice that LAUSD among other low performing districts, not only makes use of waivers and you has one of the highest per pupil funding rates in the state. Districts that perform academically as they should, get penalized and raked over the coals financially as well(all the while low performers are about to be coddled and infused with more money to supposedly offset life circumstances), because the increase in scores is not sufficient as per NCLB. The backwards perversity of the system is shocking, and we shall all meet at the bottom like the movie “idiocracy”.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Parents:

    This is a reminder that Oakland School Board has never voted to accept the CORE group requested U.S. Department of Education waiver for OUSD.

    Yet, based on the tone of the School Board’s first meeting of the new school year, the Oakland School Board is accepting the administration’s framing of the CORE group waiver as a done deal. A deal initiated by the Board’s superintendent without any instructions and a deal negotiated without the Board’s approval. The Board is clearly approving is structuring of its 13-14 school-year budget based on the granted CORE NCLB waiver. The Oakland School Board is proceeding without a discussion and vote on the granting of the CORE NCLB waiver. No application for Federal action has ever before gone to Washington without a School Board vote of authorization. Now it looks like the School Board will allow its Superintendent to proceed without a ratification of the granted CORE group waiver. The School Board and the public had not been involved up to now and the administration apparently wants to keep it that way and the Oakland School Board is acting powerless to demand transparency and democracy.

    The CORE group NCLB waiver is a pig in a poke deal. The real cost of the CORE group waiver is unknown. OUSD will be implementing a new system for evaluating compliance with the spending of Federal Title I money. Along with the seven other CORE districts a new CORE group bureaucracy will have to be funded to replace the California department of Education compliance bureaucracy.

    But, what is known is that Oakland has a long history of not being able to comply with state and federal requirements and having to pay for non-compliance when performance audit is performed. Anyone want to bet that the waiver won’t cost more than having Education Department employees with experience and training in Title I compliance do the Title I compliance evaluation?

    Also, consider that it is the state of California State Controller that will be performing the future audits of OUSD; and since the State lost money to the CORE new bureaucracy, you can bet that the Controller’s auditors will be rigorous–a perfect storm is setting up for payment of non-compliance in Title I SES programs causing the budget to be cut and reduction in staffing in OUSD.

    On the other hand what is to be gained by the School Board endorsing the granted one-year NCLB waiver? What are the odds that OUSD will meet conditional on OUSD unions accepting a negotiated evaluation system embedded in results of student test scores before the one-year waiver expires?

    The Board will have control SES portion of the Title I NCLB funding that goes to tutoring. But, since school private tutoring funding contracts have already been signed, nothing is gained in terms of controlling a budget controlled by contracts.

    But, what will be gained is a scramble by private vendors of after school tutoring to lobby the Oakland School Board to see that their tutoring is renewed.

    What the Oakland School Board has the power to do is to vote to withdraw from CORE and not implement the waiver they never asked for.

    But, the Oakland School has seldom rejected the direction given by its many superintendents and acted as if they were in charge of their superintendents. The Board is likely to do nothing and go along with making granting of the CORE NCLB waiver a done deal.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Jim Mordecai

    Perhaps it is wise for the Oakland School Board to delay voting on ratifying the CORE waiver until the true cost of CORE is apparent. Reportedly CORE will take 10% of SES Title I money. I estimate $15 million for CORE. That is a big opportunity for CORE Executive Director Rick Miller to make an enormous salary.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    CORE, NCLB, TITLE 345-22, etc and so forth.

    WTH can keep track of it all?

    Public education. Great news for lawyers, consultants, and all the other “professionals” who leech off the system.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Nontcair:

    Keeping track of government is challenging but that is why there has to be a Brown Act and citizens’ right to demand government records protected. Otherwise concept of democracy and self-government is eye-wash.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    What’s this about striking tradesmen at Montclair Elementary?

  • christiancollege.vic.edu.au

    This reason that costs create a barrier to providing better special education seems quite justified. Well! the way you have share this information is really very appreciative. Hope to see more on this topic here.

  • OUSDslave

    This is all absolutely true. The district lies to parents, staff, and teachers. Paraprofessionals are hit especially hard. We work in the classroom with Special ed students often assisting general ed students as well. Our hours have been cut from 7 hours a day to 6 hours a day so we are not there for the entire school day.
    The pay schedule on OUSD’s website and the listing on Edjoin are misleading and FALSE!c They show pay that is THOUSANDS of dollars more than our actual pay. Many of us are REQUIRED to have a college degree and specialized training (ABA, SIT, etc) yet we get paid POVERTY wages. It is no wonder that there is a high turnover of staff as we do not get pay raises or COLA.
    Many times if staff is absent, no subs take the jobs leaving us short staffed. Most of us have to work one or two other jobs just to pay for BASIC living expenses. It is stressful! We worry if we will have enough money for food every month, how we can cope with rising rents, and transportation costs.
    We need the truth to be out there about our pay and working conditions. We want to be able to work with students without having to choose between paying rent and food!