D.C. upgrades special ed system

Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty announced last month that his administration will begin an overhaul of the city's special education program, including the deployment of a special education data system (SEDS) and a pilot case management program.

City officials said the new system will improve the delivery of services and better track student performance to allow for more targeted interventions. It will also do a better job of capturing data required for Medicaid reimbursements for low-income students, city officials said.

The new system is a response in part to a lawsuit, Blackman v. District of Columbia, filed by parents who alleged that the schools took too long to provide special education services. The lawsuit resulted in a consent decree and a federal court order that compelled the city's public school system to eliminate a backlog of more than 1,000 cases awaiting decisions on the placement of students in special education programs.

Part of the SEDS implementation will include EasyIEP, a Web-based program for developing individualized education plans hosted by Public Consulting Group, said John Stokes, a spokesman for the city's education office. EasyIEP will be available to city officials and local education agencies that elect to use the system. It will be implemented in phases and track individual plans, service providers and Medicaid billing information, Stokes said.

In addition to Public Consulting Group, the SEDS implementation team is composed of city employees and several private consulting firms, including TDC Consulting and Urban Policy Development.

School officials said SEDS should be fully deployed by the beginning of the 2008-2009 academic year.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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