New Your State School Boards Association

CALL TO ACTION – Special Ed Mandate Alert


June 18, 2013

CALL TO ACTION CALL NOW TO PREVENT SPECIAL ED MANDATE LEGISLATION

You remember last year’s end of session attempt to force schools to make special education placements according to a child’s religious and cultural background?  This year the sponsor of that legislation wants to provide a new but similar benefit at the expense of school district budgets.  By requiring school districts to continue to pay for special ed placements selected by parents throughout the process of determining the best placement for the student, already approved school district budgets are disrupted.  Programs and services already promised under a voter approved budget would be eliminated to pay for the dramatic increase in special ed placements, without any benefit to the student.  In fact, under some provisions in the bill, the student and their parents actually lose rights provided in federal law, jeopardizing state and school district funding.

NYSSBA has met with legislative leaders, issued memos in opposition and obtained statewide media coverage, including three negative editorials from major newspapers.  Now it’s your turn. 

CALL
Your Senator at (518) 455-2800
 Your Member of Assembly at (518) 455-4100
TELL THEM:

  1. This bill is no better than the one vetoed by the governor last year.
  2. It reduces parental rights provided by the federal IDEA and jeopardizes federal funding.  It eliminates a parent’s right to appeal.
  3. Increases disputes between parents and our schools.
  4. Since most special ed placement disputes involve tuition reimbursement and since private special ed placements are so expensive, this is a massive new and unfunded mandate on schools…after schools have passed their budgets for next year!

OR
Cut and Paste the letter below into an email and send it to your legislator.  Their email address are located on the No New Mandates! website.

Dear Legislator:

As a locally elected school official, I am writing to strongly urge you to vote against S.5842/A.7786-A when it comes to the floor.  This bill was amended in the final days of the legislative session leaving very little time for public comment before legislative action and it’s extremely problematic for both parents and school districts. 

  • This bill will NOT accomplish the sponsors’ well-intended goal of making certain students with disabilities receive needed services in appropriate programs.     
  • This bill is inconsistent with federal law and as a result, (1) diminishes rights guaranteed by IDEA to parents and schools and (2) puts schools in jeopardy of losing critical federal funding. 
  • This bill poses a significant unfunded mandate for school districts at a time when schools statewide are facing extremely challenging financial decisions.  This measure is contrary to efforts in recent years made by the governor and legislature to reduce state-imposed unfunded mandates on schools.  It’s particularly destructive because school budgets have already been approved by voters, meaning that the costs of this huge mandate will force the elimination of needed programs and services.

RESULT WILL BE CONTRARY TO THE SPONSORS' INTENDED PURPOSE
Parents, under the bill, would be denied their right under federal law to appeal a decision that was made in favor of the school district.  The bill removes the guaranteed parental right under IDEA and New York law to appeal an adverse hearing officer’s decision first to the State Review Officer and then through the court system.  These appeal procedures afforded under current law provide parents and school districts multiple opportunities to obtain a favorable resolution of their dispute.

THE BILL'S AMBIGUOUS LANGUAGE COULD RESULT IN LITIGATION
The bill includes ambiguous, conflicting language regarding appeal rights that could result in costly litigation for both parents and school districts.  The bill provides that parental challenges to their child’s placement are to be resolved by a hearing officer’s decision or a settlement between parent and school district.  However, the bill also provides for state review officers and courts to set forth the amount of a reimbursement award and payment schedules.  This could be interpreted as providing a right to appeal the decisions of an impartial hearing officer.    We don’t need confusing and ambiguous laws that increase the chances of costly litigation!
THIS BILL JEOPARDIZES FEDERAL FUNDING DUE TO NONCOMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW
Contrary to federal law, this bill requires school districts to continue to pay tuition when a parent unilaterally places their child in private school until the committee on special education revises the child’s individualized education program (IEP) and recommends placement in another program.  This directly violates federal law (which requires school districts to annually evaluate a student’s IEP including placement recommendations.) 

This bill was introduced for a well-intended purpose.  However, not only does it not achieve its purpose, it diminishes rights afforded to students with disabilities under federal law and current state law.  The ambiguous language could lead to increased costly litigation.  Its noncompliance with federal law jeopardizes federal funding.  Finally, the fiscal challenges facing school districts are very real.  Our schools need help, not another costly unfunded mandate.

Please vote NO on this bill. 

Sincerely,


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