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FLDOE Investigating Duval Special Education Allegations (UPDATED)

Duval County Public Schools

A local school is under investigation by the Florida Department of Education following a complaint that it violated federal and state special education laws.   Officials from the department visited more than a dozen schools in the district last week to check out the allegations that a principal at at least one Duval County public school asked exceptional student education teachers to do work unrelated to special education instruction.

According to a letter to the district from the state department's Bureau of Exceptional Education and Students Services dated May 12,  the complaint from the Disability Rights Florida alleges that between Aug. 19, 2013 and April 18, 2014 the school violated state and federal provisions regarding specially designed instruction for students in reading and math and co-teaching requirements. 

Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti confirmed the investigation this week.

“There are concerns that the principal may have been using ESE personnel for non-ESE-related issues for more operational type things like bus duty, hall patrol, general disciplinary issues,” he said Wednesday.

Vitti said he didn’t know which school the complaint originated from.  The state department did not specify the school in its letter to the district, but stated that investigators would review records at several schools throughout the district in reference to the complaint. 

In most cases when the state receives a complaint they examine multiple schools to see if a pattern exists, Vitti said.  

“We’re waiting for the findings and there obviously will be accountability measures taken if it is true that ESE personnel were not used the right way,” he said.

In an email, Florida Department of Education Press Secretary Cheryl Etters stated that the department "is required to investigate any complaint related to alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The investigation will determine whether the complaint is substantiated."

The department expects to complete its investigation into the district by June 17.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.