Davis School District officials say they are taking steps to comply with federal civil rights standards in providing an education for handicapped students.
In a letter sent this month to the Department of Education, the district said it is reducing caseloads, increasing its efforts locally and nationally to recruit additional teachers and is training regular education teachers to work in special education.But a long-term solution is only possible if the state fully funds the state-mandated special education programs, said Superintendent Rich Kendell.
As a result of complaints filed by parents and advocates of the handicapped earlier this year, the U.S. Office of Civil Rights investigated the Davis District and found there were too many students per teacher.
The high caseloads have resulted in a lack of services, such as speech language therapy, counseling and adaptive physical education, the investigation found.
Summarized in a May 31 letter to the district, the investigation also criticized the way the district handled funding.
"The district's methods of allocating funds for special education . . . has the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of its programs."
Because of a lack of funding, the district has failed "to provide an appropriate education to all of its handicapped students due to either excessive caseloads, unavailability of related services and/or inadequate supplies and materials."
Since the investigation's findings were released in May, the district has hired 27 new teachers, said Mary Butler, acting director of special education. "And we have created six new positions yet to fill."
Currently, about 200 teachers and 100 assistants are assigned to about 5,000 special education students.
Butler said the district is working with Utah State University to offer an accelerated, one-year, 48-credit program for college students interested in becoming certified to teach severely handicapped students. The program will accommodate 24 students.
"If I can get nine of those (to work for the Davis district), it would be wonderful," Butler said.
In its letter, the district assured the Department of Education that:
- Resource classes will be limited to 30 students.
- Self-contained learning disabilities classes will be maintained at a maximum of 15 students with one instructor or two paraprofessionals.
- Self-contained classes for the behavioral disordered, intellectually handicapped, severe intellectually handicapped and severe multiple handicapped students will be kept at a maximum of 12 with one instructor or two paraprofessionals.
The Davis School Board has appointed Jack Dellastatious as the school district's new director of special education.
Dellastatious, of Rockville, Md., replaces Dale Sheld, who has accepted a position with the state office of education.
Dellastatious, who earned a doctorate in education at George Washington University, has served as principal, assistant principal and administrator in the Howard County Public School System in Maryland since 1980. Before that, he worked 18 years as a teacher, counselor and assistant principal in Maryland's Montgomery County Public School System.
Dellastatious begins his tenure in Davis County the first week of January.