Meltdown in Temecula as State Investigation Finds Massive Non-Compliance in TVUSD Special Education
Temecula, CA is home to the most famous special education department in the United States. However, it’s a distinction that Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) brass would likely not want, because it was earned after TVUSD allowed undercover cops onto their campuses, resulting in the entrapment of nine special education students, who were handcuffed in front of their classmates and hauled off to jail.
And now, TVUSD’s reputation is about to get even worse.
We are the first to report that last week, TVUSD superintendent Timothy Ritter received the results of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) year-long investigation into TVUSD’s special education department. The State’s investigation of TVUSD is something we had previously reported.
Some Key Takeaways from the CDE Report
- Under the current TVUSD administration, the number of TVUSD’s special education students that went on to higher education, some other post-secondary education or training program, or were employed at any level was found to be 8.3%. This falls pathetically short of the state’s target of 69%.
- The four year graduation rate of special education students in TVUSD was 76.4% percent, far short of the state’s target of 90%.
- 20% of parents who requested interpretation services at IEP meetings were not provided with an interpreter.
- Non-compliance items that were discovered in 2009-2010 by a mandatory Riverside County review have not been corrected. It was during the 2009-2010 school year that TVUSD’s current Director of Special Education, Kimberly Velez, was promoted to lead the Special Education Department.
The CDE report only reinforces the nation’s dismal perception of the treatment of Special Education children in Temecula. At best, it suggests that the administration is incompetent in the area of Special Education. At worst though, they appear to be hostile to the most vulnerable of their students. This is unfortunate because there are many gifted and caring Special Education teachers and service providers within the district, including those who have expressed feelings of frustration with the TVUSD administrative leadership.
TVUSD Responds by Patting Self on Back
And how did TVUSD respond to the CDE’s report? There’s no evidence or mention of it anywhere on their website, but the day after the CDE report was received, TVUSD sent an email to all parents in the district asking them to complete a survey that’s posted on their website. Here are some of the questions included in the survey, which is linked here:
– TVUSD has an exceptionally high graduation rate. How can we continue and improve upon students graduating from high school?- How can TVUSD create an even more positive and supporting school climate to ensure students attend school regularly?
-The strengths of TVUSD include:
(Note: while survey respondees were encouraged to itemize TVUSD’s “strengths”, there was no option to indicate negatives.)
This reaction should not come as a surprise, because Superintendent Ritter has an established pattern of attempting to create an alternate reality while the school district he oversees has become known as a national laughing stock.
For example, when the CDE initiated its investigation, it required the district to notify parents and guardians of Special Education students of the investigation, and to invite their participation in the investigation. So on December 20, 2013 and Feb 12, 2014, communications were sent by TVUSD, and each communication contained the following identical explanation, emphasis added:
The California Department of Education (CDE) Special Education Division Verification Review is a process in which randomly selected school districts are asked to provide input from parents through a survey that is sent directly to CDE.— TVUSD communication to parents
This starkly contrasts the explanation listed in last week’s CDE report:
The District was selected for VR (Verification Review) because of the number of noncompliant findings resulting from state complaint investigations and due process hearing decisions.— CDE investigation summary letter to TVUSD
The lone question that remains is how long can Superintendent Timothy Ritter and Special Education Director Kimberly Velez continue to keep their heads buried in the sand as their organization collapses around them?