Thursday, November 2, 2006
Steamboat Springs An operational agreement between the Steamboat Springs School District and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services was tabled at a recent Steamboat Springs School Board meeting.
The agreement concerns special education programs and processes.
Several board members had questions with the written agreement, and they wanted those questions addressed by board attorney Dick Lyons before approving the agreement.
"If we are going to walk into a contract, I want to make sure I know what it says," board member Pat Gleason said last week.
The operational agreement presented at the last meeting includes instructions for hiring and evaluating special education staff in the Steamboat district.
Questions surfaced at the School Board meeting about whether the district or BOCES should supervise special education staff that is working with district students.
In the propsed agreement, BOCES would be the supervisor, administrator and authoritative body regarding special education issues, and the district and BOCES would work together on the hiring process.
Lyons said the content of the written agreement given to the board in October was standard to most BOCES agreements.
Additionally, federal law requires a designated agency be responsible for the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act passed in 2004.
The Colorado Department of Education has designated local districts as those agencies unless those districts have formed a BOCES that is recognized by the Department of Education.
In Steamboat, the Department of Education has recognized and designated the Northwest Colorado BOCES as the administrative unit responsible for special education implementation and enforcement for the district.
Board member Jeff Troeger had raised concerns about attorney Daryl Farington representing both the district and BOCES.
Lyons addressed those concerns in his response.
If a lawsuit is brought by a student against BOCES or the district, Farington would be counsel for the district and BOCES. If a dispute subsequently surfaced between the district or BOCES, one of the parties would retain different counsel.
Lyons said the current relationship between BOCES and the district is common practice in legal and insurance firms.
The one issue not in the original agreement that Lyons thought the board should add was a termination date.
Lyons recommended the agreement be reviewed annually.
The Steamboat district currently employs about 12 resource teachers, five severe needs teachers and 27 aides.
BOCES employs about 2 speech/language teachers, 1.6 psychologists and 1.5 occupational therapist/physical therapists.
Last spring, a special education audit was conducted in the district. The individuals brought in to conduct the audit recommended BOCES and the Steamboat district put a more formal operational agreement in place, which is why the board will review a revised operational agreement Nov. 6.
In previous years, an informal agreement had been in place, Superintendent Donna Howell said.
Howell said she expected the board to sign the agreement with Lyons' answers and the addition of a termination date.