State’s Special Education Programs Face Surprise Checks

From Times staff and wire reports

State investigators have shifted their strategy for monitoring special education programs throughout California, no longer giving schools warning about what records and classrooms will be inspected.

The 55 districts undergoing review this year will continue to be told when investigators are coming, however.

The new approach was prompted by a 1999 federal report on special education that criticized the job states were doing in monitoring programs. The report found that in many cases, crucial paperwork including goals, progress reports and three-year evaluations was incomplete or missing.


States were threatened with loss of funding unless they changed their strategies.

“The problems we see in Los Angeles [subdistricts] are the same as everywhere else in the state,” said Diana Blackmon, a consultant with the Department of Education assigned to monitor the Los Angeles Unified School District. “It’s just that the problems in L.A. are much larger because the [subdistricts] are so big.”