The Salt Lake City School District admits it hasn’t updated special education plans for some students

The district said less than 1% of 3,000 plans for special needs students did not receive a mandatory annual review.

(Screengrab from the Salt Lake City School District YouTube channel) Salt Lake City School Board members are calling their Tuesday meeting.

The Salt Lake City School Board admitted Thursday that the school district failed to conduct the legally required annual reviews of individualized education plans for some students with special needs.

A statement from board members and Superintendent Timothy Gadson III said the number of plans, or IEPs, that were not updated this school year was less than 1% of the 3,000 plans for students in the district.

The statement also said that Gadson “acknowledges that he has not brought issues to the attention of the Board of Education related to the district’s IEP compliance numbers.”

Earlier this week, Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP’s Salt Lake branch, told The Salt Lake Tribune and KUTV that in some cases, students’ plans had not been reviewed for nearly three years and that some students graduated without an IEP would have review.

While the district’s statement said that “media claims misrepresent how many IEPs are noncompliant,” Williams did not claim that a number of students whose plans had been skipped were not considered.

And the district’s statement didn’t address whether any of the students whose plans it didn’t review were graduating seniors. It also did not indicate whether the individual plans that had been neglected that school year had been reviewed the previous year.

“The district strives to ensure that all IEPs are reviewed and updated in accordance with state and federal laws,” the board members and Gadson said. “…In pursuit of 100% compliance, the IEP teams are actively working to ensure that this small percentage of IEPs are reviewed before the end of this month.”

The district is also “making a plan to improve its compliance percentages not only through a system of checks and balances but also through specific professional development,” they said. “The Board of Education is confident in the district’s ability to complete this plan and that the district’s students will continue to receive the important benefits to which they are entitled.”

The plans “detail the individual goals, services and supports to which each student with special needs is entitled,” the statement said.

District spokeswoman Yándary Chatwin said Monday that in discussions with the school board since Williams went public with her complaint about IEPs, members were surprised to hear it was a problem.

Williams asked the US Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department on June 3 to open an investigation into alleged discrimination and harassment by the school board. She alleges that the school board also subordinated Gadson, as well as his assistant superintendent and other black officials in the district, to a hostile work environment.

A board member had received an email claiming that Gadson took a trip paid for by Grand Canyon University — a violation of the district’s ethics policy, if true. But board member Mohamed Baayd said Gadson provided records showing he paid for the trip himself.

In recent weeks, the board held two closed-door meetings and entered closed sessions before and after its meeting on Tuesday. The agenda for these meetings stated that they were held to “review the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person; and/or use of security personnel, equipment or systems.” No further information was provided.

The Salt Lake Tribune will update this developing story. The Salt Lake City School District admits it hasn’t updated special education plans for some students

Joel McCord

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