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Investigation finds District 518 in violation of special education requirements

WORTHINGTON — A more than four-month investigation of Independent School District 518’s special education programming found the district in violation of multiple special education requirements, particularly in the first and second quarters of the previous school year.

In its recently published redacted decision, the Minnesota Department of Education found the district had violated special education requirements related to data, proper progress reporting, review and revision of IEPs, IEP accessibility to general education teachers and consideration of behavior interventions and supports from Feb. 9, 2017 to February 2018. In some instances, the investigation concluded that students’ education was not negatively affected by the noncompliance.

Superintendent John Landgaard encouraged community members to read the entire report to fully understand the situation, adding that the district has proposed a strict training and monitoring regimen.

“The district is in the process of working with MDE and is looking forward to refining its processes and improving the delivery of educational services to all students,” Landgaard said.   

The 34-page complaint decision that evaluated three reported issues states that former District 518 employee Karen Abbott filed the complaint Feb. 9 on behalf of all students with disabilities attending a school within District 518 between August 2017 and February 2018. The complaint redacts the specific location where violations occurred.

According to court documents in a civil suit, Abbott was employed as a special education teacher at the Area Learning Center from June 21, 2017 until Jan. 24. Sixteen students eligible for and in need of special education services attended the school within the investigation timeframe.

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