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Program Quality Assurance Services
Compliance and Monitoring

School Inc.-Holyoke Street School: Notification of Probationary Approval Status

October 23, 2009

Todd Taupier, President
Board of Directors
The School Inc.
1 Canal Street
Holyoke, MA 01040

VIA FACSIMILE and Certified U.S. Mail

Re: The School Inc., Holyoke Street School Probationary Approval Status

Dear Mr. Taupier:

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is hereby notifying The School Inc. Holyoke Street School (Holyoke Street School) that it is being placed on Probationary Approval status pursuant to 603 CMR 28.09(4)(b). This action is being taken following review of documentation recently submitted by Holyoke Street School in its annual re-approval, a subsequent telephone conversation on October 19, 2009 with Holyoke Street School's consultant Charlie Guimond, and with Holyoke Street School's attorney Janine Brown Smith on October 21, 2009. The Department has determined that, although current conditions do not threaten the health and safety of the students enrolled, the lack of qualified staff results in serious concern regarding the ability of the school to provide appropriate education and IEP services to enrolled students. The Department is also hereby notifying Holyoke Street School that as of this notice, the school is not to accept any additional eligible students into the program.

Consistent with Board of Elementary and Secondary Education regulations at 603 CMR 28.09(4), within two (2) school days of receipt of notice from the Department placing the program's approval on probation, Holyoke Street School must provide notification of this probationary approval status to the parents of all Massachusetts enrolled students, all Massachusetts school districts with enrolled students, and officials of Massachusetts human service agencies or agencies of other states with responsibility for any students at the school. This notification must state that Holyoke Street School has been assigned probationary status for the stated reason outlined below. A copy of the proposed letter and a list of all recipients must be submitted to the Department for approval prior to distribution.

Holyoke Street School must submit a Corrective Action Plan that describes immediate steps the school is taking to address the serious concern outlined below. This Corrective Action Plan must include a detailed description outlining the steps to be taken, persons responsible for implementation, and specific timelines for correction of the problem. The Corrective Action Plan and required documentation must be received in the Department no later than 3:00 p.m. on November 3, 2009.

Following the Department's review of the proposed action plan and results of any announced and/or unannounced site visits, the Department may reinstate the Provisional approval status of the program or withdraw its approval. The Department will provide written notification of its action to Holyoke Street School.

The circumstances that prompted this action by the Department are based on confirmation of the following information provided by Holyoke Street School:

  1. The school does not currently employ a licensed educator to educate the three currently enrolled students as required by their IEPs and required for the school's approval from the Department. Note that the program is approved to serve 42 students, but is currently only serving three students. Staff delivering direct instruction or services must be proportional to the number of students. The person Holyoke Street Schools has identified as currently providing the instruction is not appropriately licensed or waivered.
  2. The current Educational Director is hired as a 20% time employee and therefore, an appropriately licensed staff person is not onsite to ensure that the services specified in each student's IEP are delivered. The Department had approved 1 FTE for this position, and the role of the Educational Director is not one that should have been reduced by Holyoke Street School, regardless of the decrease in student enrollment, without prior ESE approval.

Please note that the Department is required to post notice of this probationary approval status on its website. The Department will conduct both announced and unannounced site visits to Holyoke Street School to observe the current program and to verify any corrective action approved by the Department. It is our desire to work positively and collaboratively with Holyoke Street School to ensure compliance with Department requirements and to support the school in its efforts to meet the challenging needs of the students it serves. If you have any questions regarding the contents of this letter, please contact Sandra Hanig at (413) 858-4591.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Sandra K. Hanig
Educational Specialist
Program Quality Assurance Services

Nina Marchese
Supervisor
Program Quality Assurance Services

Darlene Lynch
Director
Program Quality Assurance Services

c:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Charlie Guimond, Consultant
Pamela Sweeney, Assistant Director, Program Quality Assurance Services



Last Updated: October 23, 2009
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