Monday, March 05, 2007

Sped, Said Fred

The verdict is in on the special ed lawsuit, and at first glance it looks like Solomon has split the baby. From the Seattle Times:

Washington's system of financing special education for more than 120,000 students has been upheld by a judge, but a lid on the number of the special-needs students has been thrown out.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee rejected claims that the state is violating the state constitution by shortchanging districts by more than $100 million a year. McPhee ruled late Thursday in a lawsuit brought by 12 school districts from across Washington, including four Eastside districts and Everett.

Representatives of the Eastside districts — Lake Washington, Issaquah, Mercer Island and Northshore — said they were disappointed by the ruling, but were hopeful state legislators would still consider increasing funding for special education, as well as general education.

The judge said the coalition of districts had not proved a financing gap and added that the courts typically won't second-guess the Legislature.

I can understand why the legislature would have put a cap on the number of sped students it funds, in order to cut down on overidentification, but it's akin to declaring that only certain amount of your mail can be bills and throwing the rest away. The largest segment of our special ed population has been identified for having a specific learning disability, and I think we can remedy that problem through frameworks like Response to Intervention and using more research-based curriculum (hello, Reading First) to make a difference.

Update:
The view of the Post-Intelligencer is here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous 4trogan said...

The so-called "split" decision, the ruling prohibiting "caps" in the percentage funded, via Safety Net, is a laugh.

Safety Net USED to have a provision for districts to get extra money if the district had a higher percentage than the 12.7 average, and some districts would apply, and some districts would be awarded the extra funds.

But many districts would not apply. They claimed the process was "too complicated" and burdensome. That was a red herring. The fact is, the district only had to prove it did in fact have a higher percentage of sped students (easy to determine, by dividing total number of students by students on IEPs)... but, it also had to show that these IEPs were... dun dun dun -- in compliance with the law.

Districts who knew their kids' IEPs weren't in compliance wouldn't bother applying; they knew they'd be denied. Apparently, these districts, the same ones suiing in fact, felt they should be given extra money to NOT comply with IDEA.

Long story short, a few years ago numerous districts lobbied OSPI to change Safety Net. OSPI obliged, and left only the high cost individual category. A school only had to show that a kid cost more than the general ed and special ed allotment, and they would get the money. The particular kid's IEP had to be in compliance, too... instead of all of the kids on IEPs.

Now, these same districts are claiming a partial victory over succeeding in having the court call illegal the very thing they lobbied so hard to have removed from Safety Net??

Fine by me!! Fine by the citizens of WA. Let them have the "above the funded percentage" portion of Safety Net back. Sounds like the districts cut their noses off to spite their faces.

Just don't refer to it as a victory for those districts, that's all.

8:25 PM  
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5:26 AM  

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