The Bureau of Indian Education did not provide or could not account for almost 40 percent of the special education service time it’s required to provide for Native American students with disabilities, according to a new a report from a federal watchdog agency.
Inadequate monitoring and a lack of qualified staff were among the factors that left the bureau unable to “ensure that the schools it funds are meeting their responsibilities” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the nation’s primary special education law, the Government Accountability Office found.
Through an analysis of school records, investigators found that the bureau knowingly failed to provide 20 percent of the service time outlined in students’ Individualized Education Programs. For another 18 percent of service time, the federally run schools indicated that services were provided, but could not provide documentation that they were.
The Bureau of Indian Education, a division of the U.S. Department of Interior, oversees 185 schools that serve more than 6,000 students with disabilities.
The GAO offered seven recommendations to help bureau schools come into compliance with federal law. The recommendations include: establish consistent requirements for making up missed special education services; develop strategies to fill vacant positions responsible for overseeing and supporting schools’ special education programs; and ensure that school staff receive needed training.