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States request waivers to cut special education funding

Posted Mar 22 2011 5:06pm

From On Special Education at Education Week : Another State Requests Waiver to Cut Special Ed Spending .

It’s official: This month, Oregon asked the U.S. Department of Education to allow it to cut about $15.7 million from its special education budget and not lose the same amount of federal money for students with disabilities—a double hit

The US Federal Government assists schools with special education by contributing about 17% of the costs. If a state were to reduce special education funding, as Oregon is planning, the Federal Government’s contribution would also go down. Say that Oregon cuts $15.7M in special education funding. They would also lose about $2.7M in Federal support. Oregon has asked that they be allowed to cut special ed funding and still keep the Federal contribution.

Follow the link that On Special Education supplied , and you will see the waiver applications from Kansas, Iowa, South Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey, Alabama, and Oregon.

Beyond the “double financial hit” aspect, the law requires states to maintain a constant or increasing level of Special Education funding. From one of the letters granting a waiver:

Under 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(18)(A) and 34 C.F.R. § 300.163(a), a State must not reduce the amount of State financial support for special education and related services for children with disabilities, or made available because of the excess costs of educating those children, below the amount of that support for the preceding fiscal year.

The Oregon waiver application starts with this paragraph:

The State of Oregon respectfully requests that OSEP grant a waiver of the requirement that Oregon maintain state financial support for special education and related services for the 2010-11 school year. This authority to grant the requested waiver is provided by statute and regulation [20 U.S.C. §1412(a)(18)(C); 34 C.F.R. § 300.163©(1)]. It would be equitable to grant this waiver because of the “exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances” due to the “precipitous and unforeseen decline” in Oregon’s financial resources. The State of Oregon respectfully requests a waiver in the amount of $15,674,579 for 2010-11.

New Jersey cut about $52M in special education funding and requested a waiver last September. West Virgina requested a waiver last year and it was granted. Iowa requested a waiver and it was granted.

Certainly we don’t want states to lose even more money for Special Education, but part of the Federal contribution is to encourage states to keep from cutting Special Education.

  1. Joeymom:
    I fail to see how these states expect to provide the services to their students that parents have fought for- just to get ADEQUATE service- with major budget cuts. Until they can explain it, no waiver.
  2. daedalus2u:
    I don't think they do expect to provide services.
  3. Staci:
    Of course they can't provide adequate services, but the law doesn't require them to do that... it only requires our children receive "some" benefit. That is how our courts consistently define "free and appropriate public education." The law is a huge part of the problem here; and the federal govt has never fufilled its obligation to fund IDEA to 40%.

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