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State of Massachusetts Contracted Equitable Services Ombudsperson in Malden, Massachusetts

Please note that pursuant to Massachusetts General laws, contracted employees are not paid for the eleven scheduled holidays, do not receive any paid vacation, personal leave benefits or contribute to the state retirement system or social security. As a state contracted employee, you must participate in direct deposit and contribute towards the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' state alternate retirement plan ("OBRA Plan"). The Special Education Planning and Policy Office within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is seeking to hire a part-time contractor to serve as an ombudsperson for IDEA special education equitable services. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides that eligible students with disabilities enrolled by their parents in a private school within a local education agency’s (LEA or school district) geographic region – and in Massachusetts, students living in the LEA who are homeschooled – must be identified and counted in determining the equitable portion of federal special education funds be spent by the LEA district to support these students’ needs. LEAs must conduct child find and identify eligible private school students, engage in timely and meaningful consultation with private school officials, parent representatives and parents of homeschooled students, determine the amount of funds that must be allocated for equitable services, and determine how to apportion services among eligible students. The requirements for parentally-placed children with disabilities in a private school are set forth in 34 C.F.R. § 300.131 and are designed to ensure the equitable participation of these children and the accurate accounting of those children. The IDEA Part B regulations define parentally-placed private school children with disabilities as children with disabilities under 34 C.F.R. § 300.8, enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, schools or facilities that meet the definition of elementary school in 34 C.F.R. § 300.13 or secondary school in 34 C.F.R. § 300.36. In Massachusetts, privately enrolled students include students who are educated at home under a plan reviewed and approved by the district. Each LEA must locate, identify, and evaluate all children with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, elementary schools, and secondary schools located in the school district served by the LEA, in accordance with paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section, and §§ 300.111 and 300.201. The IDEA Equitable Services Ombudsperson will assist DESE in providing impartial technical assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs); representatives of private schools, parents of parentally-placed private school students with disabilities; parents of homeschooled students; and other interested parties regarding implementation of, and recommended practices pertaining to IDEA equitable services. The Ombudsperson will also liaise with other DESE units involved with monitoring and oversight of federal special education requirements and special education policy and practice. The Ombudsperson will perform the following essential duties: 1. Mediate and facilitate communication to build relationships between public and private schools by: • Facilitating problem-solving and troubleshooting between LEAs, private school officials, and families regarding IDEA equitable services. • Acting as an impartial mediator when conflicts arise. • Documenting case management activities. 2. Provide technical and targeted assistance: • To LEAs, private school representatives, parents of parentally-placed private school students with disabilities and parents of homeschooled students with disabilities on IDEA equitable services requirements and timelines, including but not limited to, consultation, child find, child count window, referral and evaluation, written affirmation, and written explanation of LEA service decisions. • Collect and maintain documentation of notices of consultation submitted by LEAs when written affirmation is not received from consultation meeting participants and follow up with LEAs as needed. • Provide technical assistance and practice recommendations to LEAs as identified through DESE monitoring, state complaint, or audit processes. • Provide periodic reminders to DESE and LEA staff of key timelines in the IDEA equitable services process. • Create training materials in collaboration with relevant Department staff and/or partners and conduct trainings when assigned. • Organize and chair quarterly meetings for LEAs, private schools, parents of parentally-placed students with disabilities, and parents of homeschooled students with disabilities, to discuss IDEA equitable services’ emerging trends and best practice recommendations. • In collaboration with the Federation for Children with Special Needs, develop training for parents of parentally-placed private school students with disabilities and adapt materials for posting on DESE’s website. • With DESE, by updating training and technical assistance materials and resources, as needed. 3. Consult and collaborate with DESE offices • Serve as liaison and principal resource regarding IDEA Equitable Services to DESE staff, LEAs, private school officials, families, and other interested parties. • Collaborate with other DESE offices and participate in regular DESE IDEA equitable services workgroups and coordination efforts. • Liaise with the DESE Federal Grants Office about reviewing relevant sections of LEAs’ consolidated grant applications for IDEA funds and creating grant application materials pertaining to equitable services. • Review the findings from the DESE fiscal audit team pertaining to IDEA equitable services. When necessary, assist the audit team in ensuring that required funds for those LEAs are expended each year. • Review the findings for the current cohort of Tiered Focus Monitoring Reviews for criterion SE 39: Procedures used to provide services to eligible students enrolled in private schools at private expense. When necessary, assist the PSM team to ensure LEA compliance. • Create a system for communicating and archiving developed material in consultation with DESE staff. • Document consultation, collaboration, and technical assistance activities as determined by the DESE. • Produce comprehensive qualitative and quantitative reports to the Department describing work performed, trainings conducted, and recommendations. • Perform related duties and other assigned work as directed by the Senior Associate Commissioner and/or Director of Special Education Planning & Policy or their designee. Preferred Qualifications: Experience applying techniques of alternative dispute resolution, resolving conflicts, and fostering collaborative relationships between parties, including clarifying issues, concerns, needs, and interests of all parties involved. Ability to focus and direct the efforts of others to reach productive and meaningful outcomes. General understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and related regulations (34 CFR Part 300) and Massachusetts Special Education law (M.G.L. c.71B) and regulations (603 CMR 28.00), and willingness to engage in deeper understanding and application of the law. Commitment to adhere to professional standards governing confidentiality and neutrality. Ability to remain a neutral party to help people resolve disputes. Ability to communicate clearly and effectively, verbally and in writing, with a wide variety of audiences. Experience and comfort with public speaking, creating, and providing professional development to adults, and communicating with diverse groups. Demonstrated commitment to promoting access and equity for students and their families. Understanding of IDEA equitable services requirements and Massachusetts special education law’s requirements pertaining to parentally-placed private school students with disabilities. Familiarity with the DESE grants processes and related state monitoring efforts such as fiscal audits, Tiered Focused Monitoring, and State complaints. Strong organizational skills Questions regarding this position or the application process should contact * _Comprehensive Benefits_ When you embark on a career with the Commonwealth, you are offered an outstanding suite of employee benefits that add to the overall value of your compensation package. We take pride in providing a work experience that supports you, your loved ones, and your future. Want the specifics? Explore our Employee Benefits and Rewards! *Executive Order #595:As a condition of employment, successful applicants will be required to have received COVID-19 vaccination or an approved exemption as of their start date. Details relating to demonstrating compliance with this requirement will be provided to applicants selected for employment. Applicants who receive an offer of employment who can provide documentation that the vaccine is medically contraindicated or who object to vaccination due to a sincerely held religious belief may make a request for exemption. An Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer. Females, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. The Commonwealth is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, national origin, veteran status, or any other basis covered by appropriate law. Research suggests that qualified women, Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) may self-select out of opportunities if they don't meet 100% of the job requirements. We encourage individuals who believe they have the skills necessary to thrive to apply for this role. Job: Administrative Services* *Organization: Department of Elementary and Secondary Education *Title: *Contracted Equitable Services Ombudsperson Location: Massachusetts-Malden - 75 Pleasant Street Requisition ID: 2200085K