Thursday, July 7, 2022

York County School Division found in ‘noncompliance’ of this student’s education (Free read)

Larisa Turkatte and her son, Brandon. (WYDaily/ Julia Marsigliano)
Larisa Turkatte and her son, Brandon. (WYDaily/ Julia Marsigliano)

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The Virginia Department of Education found the York County School Division non-compliant in implementing extended school year services, after a mother filed complaints regarding her son’s education.

Larisa Turkatte filed multiple complaints with VDOE after she said she found her son Brandon’s special education teacher, Gina Rondinelli, did not provide the education hours promised by the school division.

Brandon, 7, has autism and a feeding disorder which made him eligible for homebound special education services.

For months, Larisa said she went back and forth with Elaine Gould, the division’s director of student services, about the missing hours that were unaccounted for, trying to get Brandon’s education back and renew his certificate homebound instruction.

She filed multiple complaints with VDOE about her son’s disabilities and the VDOE agreed to hear her case. Once VDOE said it was investigating the complaint, the school division asked Larisa to drop her complaint in exchange for 30 additional education hours and the renewal Brandon’s homebound placement for the remainder of the school year, Larisa said.

She declined.

Larisa said she got VDOE’s report Jan. 11, which concluded Brandon received 12 hours and 15 minutes worth of services and he was eligible for extended school year services.

In addition, VDOE found Brandon’s education plans conflicted with one another.

His individualized education plan stated he was to receive 20 hours of education a month and the other, the prior written notice document, stated he would receive 20 hours over the course of less than three months.

“Given that the IEP, and not the PWN determines the Student’s services, we find that per YCPS own admission, the Student did not receive 20 hours per month of services, for a total of 40 hours for the entire summer as required by the IEP,” the report noted.

According to VDOE’s report, the school division attempted to correct the mistake by providing additional education hours.

“While YCPS attempted to self-correct by providing 8.75 hours of compensatory services, there continues to be a significant discrepancy between the amount of services actually provided and the services called for in the IEP,” the VDOE report said.

The school division has until Feb. 3 to conduct an individual education plan for Brandon and discuss the impact YCSD’s noncompliance had on Brandon’s progress and what services are need to make up for that failure.

“Please note that if an agreement is not reached regarding the issue of student’s compensatory services due to the denial of free appropriate public education (FAPE), the parties should consider the options of mediation and/or due process to resolve the matter,” the report concluded.

“VDOE actually did fairly favor me,” she said. “It’s our little victory here.”

While she is happy VDOE sided with her and Brandon, the fight for her son’s education is far from over.

“So we’ll see how fast they are going to get together for an IEP,” she said.

Larisa said the school division still has to meet Brandon’s needs, such as establishing homebound instruction, since she feels the special education teachers cannot address his medical issues.

Brandon sees multiple behavioral therapists for his feeding aversion during the week and he currently does not receive special education services.

The judge, who is hearing the Turkatte’s case regarding the activation of homebound services, has not made a decision as of yet. The hearings are not until Feb. 19.

“The school right now needs to give my son back the hours that they, their teacher, have forged for so long,” Larisa said.

She is meeting with school officials for a resolution session on Friday.

WYDaily reached out to Gould and Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for the York County School Division for comment.

Neither was immediately available — Goff is on sick leave.

Follow the series:

Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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