“You want everyone to have the same risk,” said Zelphine Smith-Dixon, the state education department’s director of special education services and supports. “For kids, you want them to all have the same equal probability of being identified and getting a label.”
The state’s determination means APS must review and, if necessary, revise its policies and procedures and then report back to the state. A district spokesman said APS intends to submit that information by the end of the school year.
The state’s determination that APS has “disproportionate representation” is a lower level than a determination of “significant disproportionality,” which comes with a financial consequence.
Asked for comment, APS referred to remarks made by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen at a board meeting earlier this month.
She said the district's special education department is working to support school staff as they implement procedures to "prevent disproportionality."
“Additional strategies led by the department include thorough reviews of eligibility reports for students to ensure identification is appropriate, monitoring discipline processes, and providing behavior/mental health services and supports,” Carstarphen said.