California Department of Education closes case after three separate amendment requests
The California Department of Education has closed its case against the Sweetwater Union High School District, saying the district has successfully developed and implemented measures that guarantee Independent Study High School students have consistent access to comprehensive high schools.
The complaint filed in October, 2010, by two former district alternative education teachers centered around the allegations that Independent Study High School (ISHS) students were offered an inferior education and that parents were not fully informed when transferring their students into the ISHS alternative education setting.
In February, state investigators determined that allegations the Sweetwater District cheated on statewide testing and that two-tier diplomas were issued --also part of the original complaint filed with the state--were completely without merit.
In concluding its investigation last month, the state found the district's efforts on the three remaining allegations to be acceptable. The remaining issues were: 1) there was inconsistent implementation in the procedure for special education students in Independent Study High School to access college-bound (a-g) classes at their comprehensive high school, 2) that there was inconsistent use of the proper forms when there was a meeting to discuss students' placement in Independent Study High School, and 3) fully constituted Individual Education Program (IEP) teams were not convened to meet with parents to review alternative education placements.
In closing the case, state investigators said the district has developed procedures to ensure ISHS students had access to classes at the comprehensive high schools and that it reviewed procedures to ensure parents are notified prior to convening an Individual Education Program (IEP) team meeting.
"We have many safeguards in place to ensure our students receive all the resources needed to earn a high school diploma," said Board President John McCann. "This investigation has strengthened our practices."
District officials have provided training to all general education and special education teachers, counselors, ISHS coordinators, school psychologists and administrators at each comprehensive high school and ISHS sites, including the directors of alternative education and special services.
District officials also are in the process of completing the IEP reviews with the 80 students and parents affected by this portion of the investigation.
In April, the district conducted a self-review with the Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA) director and found all procedures implemented.
Currently, more than 2,000 students attend one of 11 satellite campuses of the district's Independent Study High School. The focus of the state's investigation was on the 225 special education students enrolled in Independent Study High School.