June 28, 2012


WHEREAS, a last minute legislative effort has resulted in passage of a bill that would heap new financial and administrative burdens on our school districts by requiring Committees on Special Education to, upon a parent request ,take a studentís home life and cultural environment into account within 90 days when making a special education placement and require reimbursement of tuition within 30 days of  an approved placement. 

And WHEREAS, The bill may well violate federal IDEA requirements and according to the Poughkeepsie Journal, ďleave local school districts exposed to a myriad of lawsuits and soaring special educational costs.Ē 

And WHEREAS, this legislation came without sufficient time for due consideration, leaving schools blindsided with new costs after their budgets were decimated to stay under the tax cap. 

And WHEREAS, the legislation leaves districts with high ethnic and religious populations subject to outlandish parental demands, jeopardizing funds budgeted for other special education students and the general education population of the district; ignoring the fact that under the tax cap, unexpected funds must be taken from existing programs and services, hurting other students. 

And WHEREAS, there are better ways to make sure that parents donít wait too long for reimbursement when itís found to be warranted, streamlining how placement challenges are settled and being culturally sensitive when making placements.  Allowing parents to demand private school placement when an appropriate public school programs exists is detrimental to other students and the taxpaying communities that support our schools. 

And WHEREAS, if the State of New York believes this is appropriate, it needs to provide the funding from its larger tax base and not expect local taxpayers to pay for a program that is not based on educational concerns.

And WHEREAS, the bill is legally flawed, as Committees on Special Education do not have the authority to reimburse parents for private, unapproved placements within 30 days as required under the bill.  They may only do so only when directed by a hearing officer.

And WHEREAS, this amounts to New York Stateís first voucher program and one for only the wealthy, as only wealthy parents can afford to pay private, non-approved tuition payments and wait for reimbursement. 

And WHEREAS, this is a voucher program intended to segregate our children.  New York State has always been a leader in integrating all of our children, irrespective of race, culture or special needs.  Now, we are not only allowing a return to segregation, we are encouraging it by paying wealthy parents to use high cost, private services based on culture and not the appropriate educational services needed by the student, depriving them of the advantages of a shared social experience. 

Therefore, be it RESOLVED that the Board of Education calls on Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto this onerous and inappropriate legislation.

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