Frederick School Board Seeking Independent Audit of Special Ed Programs

The Frederick County Board of Education voted unanimously to seek an independent firm to audit its public special education programs.

At the September 14 meeting fo the Frederick County Board of Education, Board members voted unanimously to approve the start of a search for an independent firm to audit Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) special education programs. The move comes at the recommendation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force that formed in response to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the misuse of seclusion and restraint in Frederick County Public Schools.

The Task Force was “charged with reviewing current programming and practices associated with FCPS specialized programs. In addition, the task force will be asked to explore proactive best practices for behavioral intervention. Through recommendations of the task force, program structures, resources and training will be augmented to guarantee optimal outcomes for the students of FCPS.” Notably, half of the Task Force members were FCPS employees, and the other half were parents or local community members.

According to The Frederick News-Post:

The task force met six times in May and June and emerged with a list of 13 recommendations for the school board. The recommendation to “explore a neutral third party to evaluate, investigate and audit all of the specialized programs” was the most popular one among the roughly 20 members of the committee, said FCPS Student Services Director and committee co-chair Dana Falls.

The Task Force initially came up with 48 recommendations, then narrowed its list down to 13 through a survey that asked members to rank their priorities. Eventually, the independent audit ranked as the highest priority for the majority of the members.

Following the board’s unanimous vote, FCPS will put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to seek a vendor that could complete the independent audit. Again, from The Frederick News-Post:

Board members and FCPS employees said Wednesday they would like the audit to be comprehensive. Member Liz Barrett said the firm should take a “bird’s-eye view” and look into issues related to staff allocation, Individualized Education Plan writing, and more.

Of discussion was also the potentially high cost for such an undertaking, in part because such an audit requires a niche set of skills and expertise.

Results from the audit aren’t expected until Spring at the earliest.

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