Sunday, May 22, 2022

The agreement between a mother who filed multiple complaints and York County School Division is hush-hush

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

After months of fighting with the York County School Division and filing multiple complaints with the Virginia Department of Education, a woman fighting for her 7-year-old son’s education has reached an agreement with the school division.

But it’s hush-hush.

Larisa Turkatte signed a confidentiality agreement on Jan. 30 regarding her son’s education.

Larisa’s son, Brandon, who was diagnosed with autism and has a feeding disorder, had been receiving homebound education services or public-school instruction at home in July 2019 from the school division.

In the following months, Larisa filed three complaints against the YCSD for failure to provide the 20 instructional education hours to Brandon per his Individualized Education Plan, failure to make up the hours owed to her son and refusing to extend his homebound instruction.

RELATED STORY: Missing hours?: How one mother is fighting the York County School Division for her child’s education

“It’s a confidentiality agreement,” Larisa said. “It’s basically like a signed contract.”

She added she could not talk about what was discussed during the second mediation meeting Jan. 30 with YCSD.

However, Larisa said she got what she wanted.

WYDaily reached out to the YCSD to confirm a confidentiality agreement existed between the school division and Larisa and if the agreement was standard protocol.

Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for the YCSD, said YCSD does not discuss specific student matters but added she would reach out to their attorney and Elaine Gould, director of student services, about the matter and respond accordingly.

In an email sent to WYDaily Monday, Goff reiterated YCSD does not speak on individual student matter and sent the following statement:

“There are several avenues of dispute resolution available to parents who disagree with the special education services provided to their child. Parents are provided with a copy of the procedural safeguards document prepared by the Virginia Department of Education, which describes the rights and legal options available to the parents. Any parents who have concerns are encouraged to refer to the procedural safeguards document or to the YCSD office of Student Services. The school division will work to address individual student matters in a confidential manner. If a student matter reaches resolution or mediation processes, a confidentiality agreement is standard procedure in accordance with state guidance.”

What happened

Gina Rondinelli, Brandon’s special education teacher from the YCSD, was supposed to provide 20 hours of instruction over three months. After Larisa said she realized Rondinelli did not provide the correct amount of teaching hours, she reached out to Gould with the text messages to prove the teacher “had lied” on her timesheet.

She said she spent months communicating with Gould to get Brandon’s instructional hours back and tried to renew his homebound instruction before she filed multiple complaints with VDOE about the situation.

But there continued to be issues with Brandon’s education. The YCSD provided additional hours of education with little to no explanation to Larisa, assigned a new teacher who subsequently quit and Brandon’s homebound instruction application was denied, Larisa said.

RELATED STORY: Hours added: How one mother is fighting the York County School Division for her child’s education

Larisa submitted another complaint to VDOE and on Dec. 9, VDOE started the resolution and mediation process noting if a resolution was not reached by Jan. 6 the due process would start that day and end on Feb. 18.

During the process, YCSD told Larisa they would give Brandon 30 hours of education and approve his homebound application for the remainder of the school year if she agreed to refute and drop her three VDOE complaints and keep the meeting confidential.

In addition, if the same situation with Brandon’s education were to happen again, Larisa would not be able to complain about it for a certain timeframe. She refused.

On Jan. 11, VDOE found the school division non-compliant in implementing extended school year services and addressed several discrepancies including two conflicting education plans for Brandon and the school division’s failure to correct the issue.

VDOE gave the YCSD until Feb. 3 to finalize an IEP for Brandon, review their noncompliance and to make up services with the recommendation for mediation or due process between the two parties if they could not come to an agreement.

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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