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Upshur County Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison at a recent board of education meeting. / My Buckhannon file photo

WVDE verifies Upshur Schools has corrected instances of noncompliance in special education

TENNERTON – The West Virginia Department of Education has closed out its monitoring of Upshur County Schools’ Special Education services, saying instances of noncompliance discovered during a 2022 monitoring have been corrected.

At the Upshur County Board of Education’s most recent regular meeting April 25, Dr. Debra Harrison said Upshur County Schools had received an official close letter verifying that the review was officially complete and all flagged issues had been addressed.

“I would like to share with the Board the Special Education on-site monitoring close letter,” Harrison said.

She read an excerpt from the letter penned by WVDE’s Office of Federal Programs and Support, a division of WVDE that’s tasked with “promoting student achievement by ensuring educational access, opportunity and support that meets the diverse needs of all students,” according to its website.

“The Office of Federal Programs and Support has reviewed the final documentation submitted by Upshur County Schools in accordance with the findings of noncompliance from the special education on-site monitoring visit conducted in March of 2022,” Harrison read aloud from the close letter. “Upon review, the Office of Federal Programs and Support has determined the documentation submitted verifies the correction of the identified findings of noncompliance issued in the March 23, 2022 monitoring report.”

“The Office commends Upshur County administrators and staff for their diligent efforts to ensure the provision of a free, appropriate public education and improved educational performance for all students with disabilities,” Harrison continued reading.

Harrison commended then-Special Education Director Kasey Baisden, now the principal at Rock Cave Elementary School, who was responsible for submitting much of the required documentation.

“I would like to publicly recognize Kasey Baisden for the work that she did in working through these processes and also Kasey’s staff,” Harrison said.

Upshur County Schools underwent an initial monitoring period in March 2022, a “second prong” re-evaluation monitoring in June 2022 and a third prong evaluation in March 2023.

At the March 28 Upshur County Board of Education meeting at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Jeremy Brunty, a compliance monitor and coordinator of Special Education for the West Virginia Department of Education, provided an update to board members, saying he hoped the review would be closed out in the near future.

All 55 West Virginia counties’ special education services are monitored on a four-year cycle, with the WVDE’s Office of Federal Programs and Support conducting monitoring of about 15 school districts per year.

The Upshur BOE voted to approve a personnel recommendation to promote Ann Osburn from special education coordinator to director of special education for Upshur County Schools at its April 11 meeting.

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