Parents invited to participate in school review
The Massachusetts Department of Education is looking for parent feedback as they review the Old Rochester School District to make sure that all students, including special education students, are being treated equally.
Though the review process can sound intimidating with all of the education terms thrown in, “it’s actually a friendly process, it just sounds more formal than it is,” said Michael Nelson, the Director of Student Services.
The Department of Education calls for a full review of civil rights and special education conditions every six years. It also requires a mid-cycle review every three years. Old Rochester school district is currently on its mid-cycle review, which will include a site visit on Jan. 14.
Before the review the Department of Education told ORR which regulations it would include in the review and asked the district to provide documents and evidence that it is meeting those regulations.
“They look at are you fully implementing [the regulations], are you partially implementing them, or are you in noncompliance? And if you’re found in partial completion or you’re not implementing them there’s corrective action,” Nelson explained.
Though “corrective action” also sounds intimidating, it is more like a planning process for how the school can improve.
“Say there’s one regulation that’s partially implemented that they identify,” Nelson said, “You work with your representative at the Department of Education and you develop a goal around how you want to come into compliance. Then you provide progress reports on any revisions that need to be made to your practices.”
On the day of the site visit the Department of Education representative does two things.
“They will go over any questions they have or concerns, or they’ll even say ‘you’re doing great here, can we share this with other districts?’” Nelson said.
Department of Education representatives also take advantage of being at the school to talk to the employees there.
“They conduct a number of interviews with key players that relate to the regulations they’re looking at, special ed teachers, guidance counselors,” Nelson explained, adding that “they are really looking for a cross section of the population.”
The Department of Education also considers parent interviews in their review, if parents arrange to interview with department representatives. Parents will also be able to view the results of the review in a few months on the Department of Education website.
If parents would like to be interviewed they should call the superintendent's office at 508-758-2772 x1942 no later than January 4, 2019 to leave their name and phone number. They may also call Mr. Jesee Kihiko at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at (781) 338- 3745.