May 13, 2020
CHARLESTON, W.VA. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) received and approved the West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) Special Circumstance On-Site Review Report for Berkeley County Schools today during its May meeting.
At the request of Superintendent of Berkeley County Schools Dr. Patrick Murphy, the Office of District and School Advancement (ODSA) conducted a special circumstance review of Berkeley County Schools, February 25-28, 2020, to obtain specific information regarding the delivery of special education services.
The review process was conducted as outlined in WVBE Policy 2322: West Virginia System of Support and Accountability. The review included classroom observations and interviews of school and central office personnel, as well as parents. The team also reviewed Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and staff to student ratios.
A team, consisting of staff members from the WVDE and educators from other districts in the state, compiled the information gathered during the on-site review and provided findings and non-compliances outlined in a report. The report acknowledges identified strengths and provides recommendations and corrective actions for improving special education services provided to Berkeley County students.
“Dr. Murphy is to be commended for requesting this special circumstance review,” said WVBE President David Perry. “Among his first priorities as county superintendent was to focus his attention on the issues around special education. His leadership, foresight and transparency during this process will lead to a more robust education system that will better support students.”
The information in this report will assist Dr. Murphy, the Berkeley County Board of Education and county educators by providing information to guide decision making to ensure special education services provided to students are equitable and offer a continuum of services. Berkeley County Schools serves approximately 19,577 students in 33 schools across the county. Approximately 4,028 students receive special education services.
The team noted the challenge Berkeley County Schools faces when recruiting and retaining teachers due to competing with surrounding states for quality special education staff.
“Through interviews with central office staff, the team determined the Berkeley County Special Education Office has many talented education professionals who are knowledgeable about policies and procedures,” Perry said. “The central office staff works diligently to recruit and retain qualified teachers, as well to address the various the needs of students and school staff.”
While there were multiple findings and non-compliances, the team was encouraged with the direction and actions current leadership is taking. The school system is focusing on system-wide change to better serve the students and the community. These actions are outlined in the Berkeley County Schools Special Education Reallocation Project. This project includes adapting the county’s current special education model of location-based services to one that is more aligned to provide multi-categorical experiences focusing on academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs of students.
To view the Berkeley County Special Circumstance On-site Review Report, visit https://wveis.k12.wv.us/essa/aosr_reports.html.