State Places Jasper County School District Under Special Watch

The South Carolina Department of Education announced on June 16 that it was placing the Jasper County School District under special surveillance related to its special education services.

The district received a letter dated June 3 from Jill Christmus, acting director of the Office of Special Education Services. He said the department is reviewing district programs to ensure students with disabilities receive the services they should under federal law.

“SCDE has been made aware of transportation issues in your district that have resulted in a lack of access to special education and related services for some of your students with disabilities,” Christmus said in the letter.

“These students fall under the protection of federal and state laws and regulations governing educational programs for students with disabilities. A preliminary review revealed issues that warrant further analysis that OSES will conduct as part of the integrated monitoring process. “

State Department spokesman Ryan Brown said issues have been reported by parents of students with disabilities. He said transportation issues are separate from special needs services.

“This applies to all students covered by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” Brown said.

The district did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“As stated in the letter, they (the district) have been asked to provide documentation so that SCDE can determine a corrective action plan,” Brown said.

Christmus’ letter said state officials “will arrange for additional activities, which will include an on-site visit to review additional documentation, to interview staff and parents/guardians, and to visit district sites.”

“OSES will require corrective actions for any findings of non-compliance,” the letter said. “Please note that this process is separate from the transportation review conducted by the CERS, Office of Transportation.”

Brown said Thursday there were no further updates on the district’s response, but the department will provide updates when the information becomes available.

The department first visited the district on April 28 due to complaints received from parents about an ongoing shortage of bus drivers. Brown said officials conducted a tally of student attendance.

“Some issues have been resolved or have been partially resolved,” Brown previously said. “Others remain unresolved. The nationwide shortage of bus drivers has impacted the operations of nearly every school district in our state. However, we have not been alerted to ongoing systemic issues with other districts. like we did with Jasper.”

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