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Louisiana’s “Confidential” SPEDx Report: Available as a Texas Public Records Request(!?)

March 10, 2018

On March 04, 2018, I published a post about for-profit SPEDx (aka Avenir Education), an organization that was registered in Georgia in 2016 (and can sell its own stock) by former Teach for America (TFA) alum, Richard Nyankori.

SPEDx purports to analyze special education data. Nyankori has a sketchy background in special education; he holds no advanced degrees in either special education or research and statistics. But he does have access to the IEPs of entire states of students, including Texas and Louisiana.

I plan to write a number of posts related to SPEDx. In this one, I focus on SPEDx’s contract with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).

The LA-SPEDx contract (“data sharing agreement”) was signed on February 13, 2017, by Nyankori and Louisiana state superintendent John White, both of whom happen to be TFA alumni (and both of whom have the characteristic corporate ed reformer resumes thin on actual K12 classroom experience and heavy on admin-CEO positioning).

The Louisiana-SPEDx agreement is for SPEDx’s people to have access to IEP (individualized educational plan) data at LDOE for three years (January 23, 2017, to January 23, 2020) in order to produce a “customized analytical report.” (Note that the data access date of January 23, 2017, predates the February 13, 2017, signing of the contract.) It seems, however, that more than one report will be generated given that SPEDx has already created a Louisiana report and shared the results with Texas administrators in September – October 2017. (For info on key players associated with SPEDx and Texas Education Agency– TEA– see this SPEDx-promoting doc from TEA, and also google, “IEP Analysis Grant Opportunity Texas Education Agency.”)

According to the advocacy group, Texans for Special Education Reform (TxSER), TxSER obtained the Louisiana SPEDx report via a public information request (see Dec 4 and 6 on this TxSER timeline).

The Louisiana SPEDx report is marked “confidential; not for distribution,” but since it was shared in Texas, it apparently became available as a public document to Texas citizens.

So much for SPEDx’s adeptness at confidentiality.

But back to the LDOE’s data sharing agreement with SPEDx:

One key bit of information absent from the LA-SPEDx contract is the cost of this business transaction, so I contacted Kim Nesmith, who is named in the LA-SPEDx contract as LDOE’s liaison, for information on the cost of the study. In turn, Nesmith forwarded my inquiry to LDOE’s public records officer.

On March 08, 2018, I received this response from LDOE:

Dear Ms. Schneider,

On March 05, 2018, the Louisiana Department of Education received your email seeking information pursuant to the Public Records Act of Louisiana, R.S 44:1 et seq. and containing the following request:

I would like to know how much LDOE is paying AvinirEducation connected to the attached contract.

In response to that request, the Department provides that the attached file titled “avenireducation—march-2017” is a data sharing agreement between Aviniere (sp.) for a no-cost study of special education trends.

So. SPEDx (Avenir) is a for-profit that is doing the Louisiana study out of the goodness of its heart? Of course not.

It seems that a third party is footing the bill for this one, and the third party happens to also be a major supporter of TFA:

The Broad Foundation.

I hope to be able to produce the documentation to back my LA-SPEDx, third-party-payer statement, but the Broad Foundation has not even filed its 2016 tax forms yet, much less 2017, and it has not yet publicized its 2017 annual report. I did speak with individuals with information on the matter, and the best I can offer at this point for those who want more is to suggest they email John White and ask him directly if the LA-SPEDx study is being funded by the Broad Foundation.

Now, I realize that I haven’t even divulged specifics from that confidential-but-available-via-Texas-public-records-request, LA SPEDx report.

I’ll just leave examination of that report to my readers.

More to come on SPEDx, Texas, and Louisiana in future postings.

This is one deep ditch. Stay tuned.

confidentiality broken


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    There are companies who specialize in buying and selling public but often hard to find data. This appears to be one of them. No doubt this buyer has others who want the data–for a data-driven marketing campaign.

  2. judymarie81 permalink

    Reblogged this on TruthPatriotRN.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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