Education:

Implementation of Public Law 94-142 as It Relates to Handicapped Delinquents in the District of Columbia

GGD-86-4: Published: Oct 17, 1985. Publicly Released: Oct 17, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the District of Columbia's (D.C.) implementation of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, which pertains to learning-disabled and emotionally disturbed juvenile delinquents and requires that education and services for handicapped children be delineated in individualized education programs (IEP).

GAO found that D.C. is not meeting its commitments under the act because: (1) many handicapped delinquents are not given opportunities for special education; (2) IEP do not meet all the requirements of the act; and (3) most handicapped delinquents in Youth Services Administration (YSA) custody do not receive special education. In order to be in compliance, IEP must contain certain educational and procedural requirements against which to monitor juvenile education and guardian participation in IEP. About 73 percent of IEP are missing these requirements. The "Mills Decree" court decision also requires that assessment, IEP development, and placement of handicapped juveniles be completed within a maximum of 60 calendar days from the date of referral; however, the central facility which performs these assessments averages 117 days. Three YSA facilities do not provide special education to handicapped delinquents and none of the teachers are certified to teach any subject. In addition, these facilities have no criteria and do not follow public school standards for determining which delinquents are handicapped. GAO also found that, although the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) are required to monitor program effectiveness, they are not adequately reporting problems or corrective actions for the facilities. GAO believes that there is no focal point for coordination and information exchange among DCPS, the D.C. Superior Court, and YSA for identifying and educating delinquents.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Education officials stated that it is not their practice to single out an entity to offer technical assistance to. As such, they have not initiated any specific action to offer technical assistance to D.C. A DCPS official stated that DCPS has not requested technical assistance, nor does it anticipate making such a request. D.C. reaffirmed its intentions not to request technical assistance

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should provide the necessary oversight and assistance to bring the District into compliance with the act as it relates to handicapped delinquents.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In May 1986, DCPS agreed to supply services in the interagency implementation plan.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to provide, where YSA cannot, educational and related services which are included in a handicapped delinquent's IEP.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A liaison agreement between DCPS, the D.C. Superior Court, and YSA was signed in May 1986.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to develop written procedures and establish specific criteria for forwarding information to YSA and the D.C. Superior Court, regarding Court or YSA detained juveniles.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An implementation plan is under development by the School Superintendent. A liaison was appointed.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to designate a public school liaison to coordinate and exchange records such as IEP, test results, and educational histories with YSA and the D.C. Superior Court.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Program Monitoring and Evaluation Branch of the Division of Special Education and Pupil Personnel Services began conducting compliance monitoring visits. During the visits, an evaluation was made of the education program to determine if the child was receiving the required services, as identified in IEP. This is an ongoing process which should be reviewed should subsequent audit work be done.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to monitor YSA contracted residential facilities for compliance with the act. In addition, DCPS should monitor the educational program quality at these facilities, as well as at YSA public residential facilities. This monitoring effort should ensure that required services in IEP are being provided by these facilities.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A representative of the Court serves as a member of the Residential Review Committee and thus obtains information weekly on changes in the program. As such, no formal forwarding of information to the Courts is in operation or planned.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to ensure that appropriate contracted residential facilities are selected as placements for handicapped delinquents. The Public Schools should ascertain what programs are available at residential facilities with which D.C. contracts, notify the D.C. Superior Court of the type of delinquent each facility is capable of serving, and periodically ascertain whether the programs have changed.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Program Monitoring and Evaluation Branch of the Division of Special Education and Pupil Personnel Services of DCPS is responsible for monitoring handicapped delinquents in the custody of YSA. Implementation of corrective actions prescribed by Special Education Services in its 1985 through 1986 monitoring report resulted in compliance with P.L. 94-142.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to monitor handicapped delinquents in the custody of YSA to ensure they receive at least the same services to which handicapped juveniles in the Public School system are entitled.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An implementation plan was signed by the Mayor and School Board. Implementation began on September 8, 1986, with the assignment of two on-site, multi-disciplinary teams at Oak Hill Youth Center. The teams conduct assessments, determine special education services eligibility, develop IEP, and provide recommendations regarding Oak Hill residents suspected of having a handicapped condition.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to ensure, through monitoring, that YSA and the Public Schools are referring all juveniles for testing who need to be tested and that the Public Schools are developing complete IEP.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Superintendent, DCPS, and the Director, YSA, signed an implementation plan in May 1986. Actual implementation began with the assignment of two on-site multi-disciplinary teams to service YSA students at the Oak Hill Youth Center, whose duties were to develop IEP and make recommendations regarding appropriate educational needs.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to test YSA delinquents with suspected handicapping conditions and develop IEP.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An interagency implementation plan which transfers responsibility was signed in May 1986. Transfer of the testing responsibility was completed in September 1986.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to transfer to DCPS the responsibility for testing suspected handicapped delinquents and preparing all necessary IEP.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A liaison agreement between DCPS, the D.C. Superior Court, and YSA was signed in May 1986. A liaison was appointed.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to designate a YSA liaison responsible for notifying DCPS that YSA is releasing a delinquent who will be returning to school. This liaison should also coordinate and exchange records, such as IEP, test results, and educational histories with the Public Schools and the D.C. Superior Court.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A memorandum agreement regarding the exchange of information was adopted and signed by DCPS, the Department of Human Services, and the Court in September 1986. Liaisons meet regularly to assess the effectiveness of procedures and implementation and recommend changes.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to develop written procedures and establish specific criteria for forwarding information to the D.C. Superior Court and DCPS, once notified by the Court that a juvenile is being detained, or has re-entered the school system.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Written procedures and criteria were completed in June 1986.

    Recommendation: The D.C. Superior Court should develop written procedures and establish criteria for the court liaison to forward to YSA and DCPS, as appropriate, information available regarding a delinquent, once an individual is placed in YSA custody or has re-entered the school system.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Superior Court

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A liaison agreement between DCPS, the D.C. Superior Court, and YSA was signed in May 1986. A liaison was appointed.

    Recommendation: The D.C. Superior Court should designate a court liaison responsible for notifying DCPS that the Court is detaining a juvenile who cannot attend regular school classes. This liaison should also coordinate and exchange records such as test results, and educational or family histories, with DCPS and YSA.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Superior Court

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An implementation plan was signed, and implementation began on December 1, 1986. Under an interagency agreement, after-care workers implement pre-release and follow-up services to delinquents after release from YSA custody. Evaluation of services provided by the after-care workers is ongoing and should be reviewed in any future audit work on P.L. 94-142 in the District.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to evaluate follow-up services provided to delinquents after release from YSA custody and correct any administrative, management, and procedural problems identified.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As of July 1985, classes were organized by academic level.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to form classes based on academic level.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  17. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A special education program was implemented at the Receiving Home for Children, which is operated by DCPS. Per signed agreement, the special education programs at Oak Hill and Cedar Knoll will be operated by YSA. This matter now falls under a court supervised consent decree along with all operations of YSA.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to establish a special education program for handicapped delinquents at Oak Hill, Cedar Knoll, and the Receiving Home for Children.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  18. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Through signed agreements with DCPS, YSA will notify DCPS of YSA inability to provide a required service and request services be provided through the local educational agency.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to notify DCPS of the required services that YSA cannot provide.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  19. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Through signed agreements, YSA will provide educational and related services to residents of Oak Hill and Cedar Knoll, while DCPS will provide educational and related services to residents of the Receiving Home for Children.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to provide all educational and related services which are required by delinquents' IEP.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  20. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DCPS policies, procedures, and standards for special education were included in the interagency implementation plan signed in May 1986.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should direct YSA to emphasize the need to follow DCPS policies, procedures, and standards for special education, including standards for teacher certification and class size.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  21. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DCPS implemented an automated case tracking system by hiring data entry clerks and instituting a weekly monitoring process to surface problem cases. Placement assistants, responsible for monitoring and following up on individual cases and advising where immediate action is necessary, were hired.

    Recommendation: The Board of Education should direct the Superintendent, DCPS, to work toward reducing the time necessary for assessment, IEP development, and placement of handicapped delinquents with the goal of ultimately adhering to the Mills Decree's 60-day requirement. As a first step, the Superintendent should emphasize to all staff the need for timely referral for testing and assessment of all juveniles for whom the need for such services is indicated.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Board of Education

 

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