Undergoing compliance monitoring can be an intensive and stressful experience. In many cases, it is a highly labor-intensive exercise to ensure all the appropriate paperwork and district/school processes adhere to timelines. Forms must contain the correct information. Instruction must correlate to the student’s IEP and be provided by staff members knowledgeable about specially designed instruction. In addition, there must be evidence parents are involved regularly involved in their child’s educational program. There is also onsite preparation which must take place before the peer monitors’ visitation. Schedules for interviews and classroom observation times must be developed. School staff involved with the audit must be prepped, and parents must be notified that a state monitor will be reaching out to interview them.
All this preparation is necessary for the audit to go smoothly.
Adopting a Proactive Stance
Drawing from over thirty years of special education and compliance expertise and experience as a Special Education Director and a State Peer Monitor, I’ve learned that proactively addressing critical areas before an audit occurs is the key to alleviating stress.
Here are seven suggestions to help you prepare:
- Conduct a departmental internal audit.
- Review files for timeline adherence and form content/completion.
- Check for child count accuracy to establish the correctness of disability categories and dates.
- Review the district policies and procedures for paperwork flow, meeting schedules, and instructional programs.
- Develop a checklist to help with the process, timelines, and form content.
- Use internal audit results to identify concern areas, and revise policies and procedures as necessary.
- Conduct routine school visitations.
- Meet with teachers and administrators to address program compliance.
- Conduct classroom observations.
- Identify critical areas for staff development.
- Provide evidence of staff development relevant to state indicators and identified needs.
- Attend IEP meetings, particularly the more difficult ones.
- Know your students’ parents! Actively listen, and have honest conversations.
- Build mutual respect for the experiences that staff and parents regularly face.
- Review IEPs to ensure that the content meets student needs.
- Know your state indicators!
- Learn state indicators’ content and how it is evidenced within your school/district.
- Attend offered training, and adjust your policies and procedures as necessary.
- Keep in mind that state indicators will surface as part of the audit.
- Complete annual requirements, such as posting the Child Find Notice and other state requirements, early in each school year.
- Communicate frequently with parents and staff members.
- Communication is crucial! Effective communication will open up many doors that will allow teachers and schools to perform responsibilities more conveniently.
- Conduct parent workshops.
- Demonstrate evidence of varied communication, such as newsletters, informational flyers, and website postings.
Audits are never fun, but taking a proactive stance can help immensely to achieve successful — and less stressful — outcomes!
What steps are involved in a compliance audit? Find out here!
Ann Marie Geissel, M.Ed., ABD
Therapy Source National Special Education Director
Ann Marie has 30+ years of special education experience, as a teacher, principal, special education supervisor, and special education director within urban, suburban school districts and charter schools. Her background and qualifications make her well-positioned to assist Therapy Source’s education clients with compliance monitoring and daily operation. Ann Marie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education from LaSalle University, and a Master of Education in Special Education from Arcadia University. Additionally, she has been certified as a principal and special education advisor – and possesses a Letter of Eligibility for Superintendent – through Temple University’s and Widener University’s Doctoral Programs in Educational Administration.