Solutions

Tracking mandatory compliance with Special Education reporting requirements is made easier and more efficient with FileMaker Pro 8.

Special Education Compliance Department

Compliance with complex Special Education reporting requirements is an issue for every school district, large and small. But for the Special Education Compliance Department at the Los Angeles Unified School District, the sheer size and scope of nearly 900 schools makes the job especially daunting. Every year, 200 of these schools have their reports and documents audited by the Compliance Department, and this process means extensive information processing, a task made easier by a longstanding relationship with FileMaker Pro.

Overview

  • Oversees and documents compliance with compulsory Special Education reporting requirements for nearly 900 school sites in greater Los Angeles
  • Based in Los Angeles, CA
  • Approximately 70,000 employees districtwide, 20 in department

Industry

  • K-12 Education

Solutions

  • FileMaker Pro 8 loads and processes raw data for each Special Education program, generating on–the–fly reports that are combined to create complete year–end documents

We're creating more and more buzz at the office. And with the improved usability and efficiency of FileMaker Pro 8, we're experimenting with new ways to use it to benefit the district.

— Tim Skilton, Compliance Specialist, Special Education Compliance Department, Los Angeles Unified School District

Business Challenge

Every school that operates a Special Education program in the United States is required to file detailed reports documenting its compliance with all relevant state and federal regulations. These reports require teachers and administrators to compile a great deal of information on mandatory Individual Education Plans, parent–teacher discussions, and scheduling — all of it required to be complete, up–to–date, and accurate. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, nearly 900 individual schools have to prepare and submit these documents — and all of this must be supervised by just 20 people laboring in the Special Education Compliance Department. "We do this through 3 approaches," explains Special Education Compliance Specialist Tim Skilton. "We educate, we support, and we monitor. We build and distribute training modules and offer workshops and presentations related to compliance, we visit and advise schools on best practices and procedures, and we also respond to specific questions about specific cases."

Each year, the department audits and reviews the compliance of approximately 200 district schools, which involves one–to–two day visits by department staffers, examination of original documents, interviews of teachers and parents, checkups on implementation of services, and actual classroom monitoring. This process gathers plenty of data which are then organized and processed rapidly and efficiently. "We wind up with close to 200,000 data points a year," Tim notes. "What we collect changes a little bit each year, so we have to be flexible. Then we have to distribute the data to lots of different consumers, each with their own requirements."

Successful Solution

Tim discovered FileMaker Pro back in 1989 — growing with every version of the software right up to the present, and proving itself an invaluable tool for rapid development of needed, necessary solutions. "A lot of what we do has a limited shelf life, so we're writing 'disposable' databases," he points out, "quick and simple data collection tools that can be written and deployed faster than the policy memos that direct the staff to send us the data."

The primary FileMaker Pro database used by the Compliance Department contains about 50 tables in a single file and 50 layouts. "The field teams gather most of the data little by little," explains Tim. "They enter it over the WAN, and reports are generated as each school is reviewed. The aggregated data will produce year–end reports for the Board, the State, and the independent monitor. Occasionally, our research and other units ask for something, so custom reports are developed."

I'm the only developer in the Department, and my productivity is on a very steep rise with FileMaker Pro 8. There are so many things that just speed up development and enhance user experience.

— Tim Skilton, Compliance Specialist, Special Education Compliance Department, Los Angeles Unified School District

Customer Benefits

The arrival of FileMaker Pro 8 means important new advances for the Department's system — and those innovations are eagerly anticipated. Foremost of these enhancements is Excel Maker. With much of the data gathered by field teams coming in as statistics, spreadsheets are a vital reporting tool — and Excel Maker ensures those documents are prepared quickly, accurately, and automatically. "I'm routinely pushing defined Excel spreadsheets to managers via e–mail," Tim says. "It's all done with one click."

But the most important advantages of FileMaker Pro 8 for the Department are found in the ways in which it helps simplify the day–to–day development process. "I'm the only developer in the Department," Tim emphasizes, "and my productivity is on a very steep rise with FileMaker Pro 8. There are so many things that just speed up development and enhance user experience, things like being able to duplicate a whole table or build tabs in layouts so quickly. The Relationship Graph is phenomenal — and so much fun! I use it to teach colleagues about relationships, and its visual nature makes that easy for them. And I love the reorganization of all the field controls."

Enthusiasm about FileMaker Pro 8 is spreading rapidly — from the compliance staff themselves all the way up the line through the various managers who benefit from easy, efficient delivery of detailed reports. "We're creating more and more buzz at the office," Tim concludes. And with the improved usability and efficiency of FileMaker Pro 8, we're experimenting with new ways to use it to benefit the district."

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Special Education Compliance Department:

Tim Skilton
Compliance Specialist
Special Education Compliance Department
213-241-8108
silverfoot@mac.com
http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/