Tuesday, February 14, 2006

BoE delays (again) vote on special education

The Board of Education has delayed for a second time a vote on a resolution asking the DC Council to change the way special education is administered.
Advocates of the change, noting that the District school system spends a disproportionately large portion of its budget on special education, contend that shifting the burden of proof to parents could reduce the number of legal challenges filed against the system and save money.

But other board members say requiring the school system to show why its plans are adequate is an appropriate safeguard, given the system's long-standing problems in delivering special education services. They also argue that school administrators have offered little evidence that changing the law would have much financial impact.

The school system's deputy general counsel "did not provide any information to show this would save the District money," school board member Tommy Wells (District 3) said after yesterday's meeting. Changing the law, he added, "would make a statement to parents that we want to make it harder for you if you feel you want to get help for your child."
The proposed changes stem from recent local lawsuit. Late last year the Supreme Court decided that the burden of proof of whether a school system meets the needs of a special education student resides on the parents, not the school system.

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