The U.S. Department of Education's civil rights office has closed its case against the Davis School District, which was cited last year for failing to provide an adequate education to handicapped students.
The district has stepped up its recruiting efforts, redirected resources and reduced classloads, according to a letter to District Superintendent Rich Kendell from Lillian Gutierrez, regional director for the Office of Civil Rights."Based on its review . . . (the office) has determined that the district is fulfilling its commitment to provide an appropriate education to each handicapped student within its jurisdiction," the letter states.
The office investigated the district in early 1990 after receiving numerous complaints from parents and teachers of handicapped children.
In May, the office cited the district with having too many students per teacher, too few certificated teachers and an inadequate amount of teaching supplies and materials.
The high classloads resulted in a lack of services, such as language therapy, counseling and adaptive physical education, the investigation found.
Also criticized was the district's fund allocation methods, which had "the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of its programs."
The district quickly set out to remedy the problems and responded to the charges in November, assuring the Office of Civil Rights that the district was: limiting its classes to 30 students, maintaining self-contained learning disabilities classes at a maximum of 15 students with one instructor or two paraprofessionals and keeping self-contained classes for severely handicapped students to a maximum of 12 with one instructor or two paraprofessionals.
To help reduce the classloads, the district started a partnership with Utah State University to get college students to teach severely handicapped students in the Davis District for credit.
And to acquire more certificated teachers, the district has launched a major recruiting campaign on the local, state and national levels, said Assistant Superintendent Nancy Fleming.
So far, the district has hired 40 new certificated teachers since the investigation, she said.
Money has also been redirected to special education accounts for supplies and materials, she said.
Fleming said that although the investigation is closed, the district will continue to improve special education.
"I don't want in any way to be interpreted that because we have received this (letter), our efforts won't continue."