HARVARD — A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued for the special-education audit that was approved by Town Meeting this spring.
The document was issued widely in early July, said Special Education Audit Committee Chairman Robert Eubank. Responses for the RFP are due by Sept. 10, he said, and the committee will make a decision shortly thereafter.
“What’s contemplated is the audit gets going in the fall, gets wrapped up with public presentations by the end of the year, and we go into Town Meeting next year with a report,” he said.
The idea of an audit originated with a citizen’s petition, whose proponent — Margot Holtzman — said she wants to ensure the district is getting the most for its money.
Holtzman’s petition was tabled at Town Meeting in favor of a similar article put forward by the Board of Selectmen and School Committee.
Once Town Meeting approved $25,000 for the audit, discussion then shifted to the scope of the study.
The resultant RFP incorporates those deliberations and public input, said Eubank.
During those deliberations, there was some discussion of tying the audit in with the investigation of former School Committee member Paul Wormser, who allegedly received $30,000 from special-education accounts last year to send his child to Cushing Academy, a private preparatory school that doesn’t offer special education.
However, the audit committee has consistently maintained the audit is an overarching review of the program as whole, not an investigation of any specific allegations.
Central focuses of the audit include:
* Evaluating Harvard’s criteria, process and expenditures related to the process of deciding which students advance to an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Those findings will be compared against state and federal requirements and the practices of comparable communities in the state.
* Evaluating Harvard’s criteria and process for deciding what services will be delivered to students as a part of their IEP. These findings will also be compared against state and federal requirements and the practices of comparable communities in the state.
* Identifying and commenting on core values related to Harvard’s Special Education Program and the extent to which they guide and drive Harvard’s decision-making processes, procedures and expenditures. This includes evaluating their impact on the costs of providing special education.
* Identifying and commenting on areas where improvements in providing more inclusive environments and programming in the district might accommodate more out-of-district students.
* Identifying and commenting on opportunities for efficiency improvements in Harvard’s processes and procedures to include the use of technology.