Shawnee Mission says it will work to meet requirements outlined in KSDE report finding fault with some special education programming

The Shawnee Mission School District's Therapeutic Day School.
The Shawnee Mission School District’s Therapeutic Day School.

The Shawnee Mission School District on Tuesday indicated it intends to comply with the direction given by the Kansas State Department of Education after an investigator looking into a complaint by a district patron found a handful of instances where the district was out of compliance with state law and regulations.

Shawnee Mission Director of Communications Shawna Samuel issued the following statement on the investigation:

The Shawnee Mission School District cooperated fully with the investigator’s requests over the last several weeks. The report, received on Friday, December 22, is being reviewed carefully. The district is pleased that the thorough investigation rejected the complainant’s broad allegations, finding no “evidence of systemic actions, policy or practices on the part of the district purposefully designed to undermine the ability of school-level professionals to perform their duties.”

At the district, we work tirelessly to comply with applicable special education requirements. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, circumstances beyond our control interfere. We will work with KSDE to meet the requirements outlined in the investigator’s report, most of which involve individual or a small number of students. In every instance, we strive to provide the best education possible to all students, including students receiving special education services.

The complaint, which was filed by district parents and education doctoral student Liz Meitl, alleged that Shawnee Mission schools were not always in compliance with special education requirements related to the licensure of teachers and staff, the amount of time students are supposed to spend with special education professionals, and the commencement date of special education services.

While investigator Diana Durkin found evidence to support a number of Meitl’s claims, she did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate Meitl’s most significant allegation, that the district had made a pattern of steering special education resources toward schools that served the most affluent pockets of the community.

The corrective actions outlined in the report require the district to provide documentation of its special education practices and written plans for addressing the violations by next month. The district has 10 days from the issuance of the report, which was delivered Dec. 22, to either accept the corrective actions, request an extension or file an appeal.