Persistent parental engagement is driving reform in Virginia’s special education system

June 28, 2024

Virginia’s Department of Education (VDOE) is far from perfect, but parental insights are beginning to amend the system. 

This year marks the fourth year in a row that the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has held VDOE in noncompliance. Among various shortcomings, Virginia’s state guidance allowed for improper adjudication of individualized education programs (IEPs) for special education students. 

Notably, a research audit of Virginia’s special education system revealed that 37% of parents believed that IEPs for their child were only “somewhat” or “not at all appropriate.” A significant percentage considering that over 178,000 students are enrolled in Virginia’s special education services. 

Across the commonwealth, impassioned parents are now testifying through the Special Education Dispute Resolution system. Yesterday, June 27, was the final of five hearings scheduled before the Commission on Youth in June. The commission intends to continue to hold monthly hearings, and, in August, a consultant will provide a series of recommendations based on parental concerns. 

“I’m here not for her, but here for everyone else’s kids who don’t have the capacity, the means the know-how, or the emotional bandwidth to stand before you today and share how profoundly flawed the system is," shared one parent. 

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