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Case Study

Improved Compliance and Tools for Staff Working with 504 and Special Education Students

Kennedale ISD implemented new systems for special education and 504 Plans and now enjoys drastically improved compliance and equips teachers and staff to serve students better.

Kennedale ISD Hero Image

District Background

Over ten percent of the approximately 3,000 students in Kennedale Independent School District are part of the special education program — close to 360 students. Another ten percent of students have 504 Plans.

Director of Special Student Services Monica Rawls noted that as demographics in the district have changed, the number of students in special education has grown by over 100 students in five years. As students with dyslexia in Texas are now tested under special education, she expects the trend to continue.

Providing an outstanding education for so many students with varied and complex needs is no easy feat. Monica expects to request additional teaching staff with the increase in the special education and 504 populations, especially as the department recently launched a new program. This new program is aimed at addressing behavioral needs and keeping students in class, with the support of paraprofessionals and behavioral interventionists. She is leading the team in moving away from a mindset of “this is how things have always been done.”

Switching to Frontline Special Programs Management

Two years ago, Kennedale ISD migrated from one of Frontline’s flagship Special Programs Management systems to the new Frontline Special Education Management solution. They use Frontline to organize and track the IEP process and view Frontline’s new IEP system as an investment in the future of their program. “It was the ongoing training and support that we were going to get,” says Monica.

Switching software systems always involves a certain amount of change management, and Monica credits her leadership team with helping to ensure the process was successful. “Keeping them involved in that decision-making helped a lot because they were the ones that could reach out, even more so to our diagnosticians, to our assessment staff, to our teachers there. It is not just one person saying, ‘We’ve got to go.’ We had all of us talking through it.”

During their first year on the system, the team experienced some bumps in the road, but Monica says that Frontline’s implementation team supported them throughout the project and worked to ensure the system met their needs. “We had a really solid team, and they listened to us. They worked through it all year long, not just with me but with my coordinator and my lead diagnostician, who are the main ones that handle the day-to-day problem-solving with our diagnosticians and staff. The team was really great.”

Impact for Kennedale ISD

Improved Compliance

Meeting Texas Education Agency (TEA) requirements for special education is crucial for any district, and Monica says this is where Frontline shines. Even though diagnosticians know the requirements well, staff who are not schooled in special education compliance may not be as familiar with them. As the team creates IEPs and 504 Plans, the system will catch anything that is missing and will not allow an incomplete document to slip through.

“The fact that it is built on compliance really has helped,” she says. “Because it is so compliance-based, we were 100 percent compliant the past two years. That helps ensure we are not missing pieces and helps everybody understand the required pieces.”

Monica Rawls Photo

“The system being very compliance-based has helped us to make sure we are covering everything needed for a student’s IEP or 504 plan, to make sure that we are providing them with the best education possible. It is because the system is set up that way.”

Monica Rawls
– Director of Special Student Services

Tools for Student Teams

Teachers, administrators, and service providers use Frontline to access the information they need to create and view IEPs, build student teams, and ensure everyone has what they need to provide the appropriate student support. “All of our teachers and service providers, everybody has access to get into the IEPs, to look at what they’re doing,” says Monica. “It is integrated nicely with other software programs we have used, like our goal writing program. That helps our teachers not have to spend as much time developing IEPs.”

“Everybody who works with the students has access. They are able to build their student teams, and so the teachers that are part of the teams get access to the student’s information.”

Monica Rawls
– Director of Special Student Services

Progress evaluations and evaluation reports are also done within Frontline. Assessment staff can share documentation with teachers within the system, so everyone has what they need to plan and work collaboratively.

Because Kennedale ISD uses Frontline’s Absence Management, Monica says the software has a familiar feel. Now, they are used to using the system. “Overall, I think it is working out well for everybody.”

Streamlined Parent Communication

Parents and guardians play a vital role in special education, and Monica’s team can easily stay in touch with them within the system. “They can communicate and share the documents with parents straight from there.” Monica says that while some parents may request hard copies or direct emails, “they use the collaboration portal to share the information with teachers and parents and whoever else is part of that team.”

Guided Reporting

When teachers submit progress reports to TEA, Frontline’s system walks teachers through the required items. Kennedale ISD submits progress reports every nine weeks, which is aligned with when report cards are completed. The system prompts teachers to complete everything required for the reports, locking the old documents and opening new ones for the new reporting period. “They can see what is coming, what is due next. That has been helpful.”

Because Kennedale ISD is not a large district, many service providers are contractors who are not employed directly by the district. Monica uses Frontline to generate reports showing which service providers need to work with which students. “I am able to run various reports and say, ‘Here are the kids you should be seeing’ as they come in, which has helped us with organization, making sure we are not missing anybody.”

Ongoing Support

Through the complexities of special education and the district’s 504 program, Monica knows that with Frontline, she does not merely have a software provider. She has a partner to support them through the process. “The service and the support we get is really wonderful.” Frontline’s support team has incorporated feedback from Monica and her team to refine the system and ensure it is set up for maximum effectiveness. They recently even helped Monica troubleshoot an issue on her computer that was preventing her from connecting, even though the problem was unrelated to Frontline Special Programs Management.

That support is important in any school-related system, but especially in special education because of what is at stake.

“We use Frontline Plan Management for our 504 plans and IEP services for students in special education. This system has really helped us to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the student as a whole and to develop a strong plan to help them be successful.”