Politics As Usual
- is it -
? Cooperation or Exploitation?

Abuse Of Power

Rigging the System

Special Education Mandates:

According to the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief, New York has 204 special education mandates
that go above and beyond what is mandated under the federal government’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which is usually referred to as IDEA. Here are two examples:

- Public schools must provide a range of special education services to all students with disabilities—even those who are homeschooled or enrolled in nonpublic schools. This is known as New York’s “dual-enrollment” provision, and it exceeds the requirements of the federal law.

- Parents who disagree with decisions made by their school district’s committee on special education (CSE) can request an impartial due process hearing. During the hearing, the burden of proof is on the school district to disprove the parent’s claim—rather than on the parent to prove his or her claim, as is the case under federal law. This mandate increases legal costs for school districts as they prepare their arguments. Plus, if the hearing officer finds in favor of the parents, in most cases the school district is responsible for paying the parent’s legal fees.

Although many of these mandates were passed with the best of intentions, they cost school districts a great deal of money. During the 2008-09 school year, school districts in New York State spent an average of $26,551 to educate one special education student—compared with $10,874 to educate one general education student. That same year, schools spent 27 percent of their instructional dollars on special education—even though only 13 percent of all students were in that category.

However, according to a study published by the Center for Special Education Finance in 2003, the national average cost to educate one special education student in the U.S. was $12,474 during the 1999-00 school year, the last year national data was compiled. Even though there’s a nine-year gap between the national and New York State figures, the data provides a sense of how much New York’s 204 “extra” special education mandates cost.

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