Fairfield Local’s special education program is in the process of addressing gaps in services and paperwork, special education director Jennie Pierson said during the district’s Monday night board of education meeting.
Since Pierson took over the program last spring, she and her team have been working to ensure the program is in compliance with state standards.
According to Pierson, 90 percent of files were missing necessary items — including evaluations, signatures and up-to-date information — at that time. As of Monday, Pierson reported that 80 percent of those files are now up-to-date.
“We sat down and went through every file to make sure it was on track, but there were so many that I’m scared to death that I’m going to miss something,” Pierson said. “As I have each meeting, I go through [the files] a second time to make sure that we catch [any issues] right there when we have a parent there.”
When Pierson took over, the special education program also had 36 incomplete evaluations and 15 missing signatures on individualized education program (IEP) documents. The district also had two students who had previously begun the process but were never connected with services within the district.
As of Monday, Pierson reported that 24 of these evaluations had been completed, 11 of the missing signatures had been collected, and both students were receiving the services they needed.
This school year, Pierson and her team have held 191 meetings with students and their families. Fairfield’s special education program works with a total of 227 students for both speech and academic needs. Pierson and her team are still working to meet with each student’s families as many as two or three times.
“We’ve not had every kid’s meeting yet, but we’ve had a lot,” Pierson said.
The district has presented its plan to get its special education program into compliance to the state but has not received a response. Superintendent Tim Dettwiller speculated that the delay in response may be due to the pandemic.
In other news from the Fairfield Local Board of Education’s Monday meeting:
* Dettwiller reported that the district has seen a decrease in COVID-19 positive cases and quarantines. As of Tuesday, the district had one active case involving a student and one active case involving a staff member; 28 students and three staff members were in quarantine.
* The district is continuing research on local preschool programs. Dettwiller reported that he and board member Rindy Matthews spoke with Valerie Williams, the director of Highland County Community Action Organization’s head start program, to gather information about HCCAO’s program.
* Treasurer Mike Morrow reported that the district was awarded a 30-percent credit, or approximately $43,000, for its December health insurance bill due to Covid.
Of the credit, the district will receive $33,000, and $10,000 will be distributed to employees with insurance on Friday.
“That’s a pretty big win for everybody, and it comes at a nice time with Christmas,” Morrow said. “As Mr. Friend pointed out, that paid for the staff Christmas that we’re asking the board to formally approve.”
Board member Ron Friend said, “I told you: the good Lord takes care of this place.”
* The district will not hold a sports hall of fame event this year as inductees would not be able to be properly recognized, athletic director Tony Williams said.
Williams and booster president Tom Purtell announced that the committee used this year to redesign the process for inducting Fairfield alumni into the sports hall of fame.
According to Williams and Purtell, the committee created a rubric that it will use to score nominees. Nominees much achieve a certain score or above in order to advance to the next round of the process.
The rubric focuses solely on high school achievements, including team and individuals awards and accomplishments.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.