Parsons & MGT of America provided DeKalb Schools with the questionable facilities condition reports which were used to determine the capital projects list in the current SPLOST IV. I have consulted with credible sources and they indicated to me that they believed the data previously produced by MGT was manipulated to produce a particular outcome. This past February, Parsons & MGT of America were contracted again for the same service. Their data and report to the DCSD and the BOE will drive the SPLOST V projects slated to start in 2018.
Kirk Lunde is a parent and an advocate for children. Mr. Lunde asked me to share this open letter he wrote to Sam Mandola at Parsons, a capital project management firm.
———— Original Message ————
From: Kirk Lunde
Subject: DeKalb County Facility Educational Adequacy Assessment
I am a resident of DeKalb County, GA whose sons were in an elementary school which was incorrectly identified as having two gyms the last time Parsons & MGT of America assessed the facilities of the DeKalb County School District, DCSD. When Mr. Wilkins, DeKalb’s former COO, contacted MGT of America regarding the incorrect number of classrooms at my sons’ elementary school, Mr. Humble replied, “Our process for determining instructional capacity included a definition of what a classroom is and a detail review of the inventory of space with the principal at each school.”
When you compare the classroom count for Midvale Elementary previously done by MGT of America in 2012, 41 classrooms, to the classroom count for Midvale Elementary done by DCSD employees in 2013, 32 classrooms, the magnitude of the error becomes obvious. In fact, the errors in the work performed by MGT of America were so egregious, the DCSD planning department had to redo the classroom count at every school in the district. A comparison of the two reports shows more than 80% of the schools have different numbers of classrooms and different building capacities.
That is not what I want to speak to you about.
The tools used in Facility Educational Adequacy Assessment (FEAA) currently being done for DCSD by Parsons are not posted on the S.P.A.C.E.S. page of the district’s website. Based on the absence of any inclusion of space considerations for special education in the previous Facility Condition Assessments prepared by Parsons, I assume the current FEAA will not address special education. I may be wrong.
For two years, I tried to get the DCSD facilities department to assess the needs of students with disabilities for physical space. They refuse to do so.
I am attaching a document I presented to the SPLOST IV oversight committee which includes a survey for school personnel to identify the space needs of students with disabilities and itinerate employees. It was updated this morning to include a link to GaDOE Rule 160-4-7-.14 which reads, in part:
Children, with an IEP designating the service location for the delivery of goals and objectives to be the regular classroom environment , shall be reported in their special education program category if instruction is provided in a :
A. Team/Collaborative Model; or
B. Consultative Model .
This is relevant because those models of instruction are also known as “inclusion.” These are general education classrooms which include students with disabilities. Earlier in the text of Rule 160-4-7-.14 it states:
(d) The LEA shall provide a classroom of suitable size in a distraction-free area, as required by the type of program or services to be established, with appropriate furniture, materials, supplies and equipment to meet the needs of the class or individual children to be served. GaDOE has established this policy as a safeguard to prevent placing children with disabilities in classrooms that are too small, have visual or auditory distractions or do not have items necessary to provide appropriate instruction.
(e) Thirty-eight square feet shall be provided for each child in the class with a variance of 10 percent depending upon the total number of personnel in the class at any time, the type of children and class, the kind and amount of furniture and equipment required and the necessity for storage capabilities
Adhering to this rule means general education classrooms are to limit the number of students during segments which include students with disabilities and instruction is provided with one of the three models listed.
Rule 160-4-7-.14 will affect the building capacity calculation. It seems to me this is relevant to the FEAA being conducted for DeKalb County Schools.
The FEAA needs to include an assessment of the physical space needs of students with disabilities to identify where small group instruction and testing takes place. I am writing to you to ask if that is part of the FEAA. If it is not, what steps can be taken to add it?
Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I plan to address the Board of Education regarding this issue on July 13.