ERIC Number: EJ890701
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun-16
Reference Count: N/A
States Seek Federal Waivers to Cut Special Education
Samuels, Christina A.
Education Week, v29 n35 p1, 31 Jun 2010
At least three states have asked for permission to cut back on the money they provide districts for special education, under a built-in escape clause in the federal special education law that is aimed at financially struggling states. Iowa and Kansas have both been granted a waiver, which under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can be given out in "exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances such as a natural disaster or a precipitous and unforeseen decline in the financial resources of a state." South Carolina has requested a waiver, but the U.S. Department of Education has asked the state for more information before making a decision. Both the waiver requests and the department's responses were reported earlier this year by the blog IDEA Money Watch, a project of the Washington area Advocacy Institute, which supports parents of children with disabilities. Special education advocates say this is the first time they're aware of economic-hardship waivers being granted. The IDEA tries to insulate funding for children with disabilities from the ebb and flow of state financial woes. States generally must fund special education at the same amount or more from year to year, which in federal terminology is called maintenance of effort. There are penalties for making cuts without a waiver, and the waivers are granted only for one fiscal year at a time. After a waiver expires, a state must go back to the same funding level that existed before the cut was granted. More waiver requests may be coming according to an education finance expert with the Denver-based Education Commission for the States. The financial outlook for states remains grim, and special education costs have grown at a faster rate than general education costs. States may not have asked for waivers before because they knew their requests would likely be denied.
Descriptors: Disabilities, Special Education, Financial Exigency, Educational Finance, Fiscal Capacity, State Action, Federal Regulation, Accountability
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Iowa; Kansas; South Carolina; Washington
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act