Randi Weiner and Cathey O’Donnell of the Journal News have a comprehensive article on the issue of Special Education, State Mandates and the cost to local school districts.
The article covers a lot of ground and contains quotes from New Rochelle Director of Special Education Yvette Goorevitch and New Rochelle Board Member Naomi Brickell.
The basic point is that Special Education has been getting increasingly expensive due to federal and state mandates and will become more so due the decision to eliminate the local diploma option in New York State.
Schools and districts that fail to reach four-year graduation targets for special-needs students are required to create new programs, increase tutoring, hire outside consultants and do more teacher training — all actions that cost money. Those dollars are on top of the cost of educating a special-needs child, already about three times what a general-education student costs.
The two quotes from local school officials:
“My colleagues and I have been struggling with this,” said Yvette Goorevitch, director of special and alternative education for New Rochelle schools. “It becomes very dangerous to have a system where the most vulnerable students are being pitted against any other group for competing funds. I do fear there are communities that will (be faced with) taking from one to fund the other. It’s a concern statewide. I have to say that we’re looking for some mandate relief here.”
Naomi Brickle, director of Hudson Valley Special Education Parent Center, a New Rochelle school board member and the parent of a special-needs child, agreed with the state Board of Regents that the current safety nets are too lax.
“I think that the (local diplomas) represent an extremely low standard and, quite frankly, (are) a leftover,” she said. “As a parent, it feels to me a bit second class. I look at a high standard for students with disabilities.”
Read the entire article here.