HARD-FOUGHT SPECIAL EDUCATION RIGHTS UNDER ATTACK
On September 20, 2010 SPAN was invited to testify, along with other education stakeholders, before the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. Now you may wonder what Education and Solid Waste have in common? Evidently, the chairmen of the committee, Assemblyman McKeon (Essex-27), has been charged by the Assembly Speaker, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (Essex-34) with looking at state mandate relief for local governments and school districts.
The topic of conversation at the committee hearing was unfunded education mandates with special education targeted as the “chief” cost-driver. The School Boards Association, Principals and Supervisor’s Association, School Administrator’s Association and the Garden State Coalition, to name a few, have all lined up to point at Special Education mandates, specifically due process protections for children and district responsibility for the burden of proof, as items that need to be addressed.
SPAN is opposed to targeting children with disabilities and their families in this way. On the issue of burden of proof, SPAN testified to the clear inequity in the availability of resources for a parent vs. a district when a parent disagrees with a school district decision. SPAN also pointed out how hard-fought and important to families the special education regulations have been. Further, it was also brought to their attention that many of the mandates in special education are in fact cost-neutral.
Legislation may be introduced very soon addressing these issues. Parents and Advocates, stand by and keep a sharp eye on SPAN’s website and E-News for up to date announcements and Action Alerts.