Cash-Strapped Schools Divert Special Education Stimulus Funds
The stimulus brought an $11.3 billion funding boost for special education, but some school districts are using a loophole in the law to direct the funds elsewhere.
School districts from Florida to Nevada are taking advantage of a previously little used provision in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which allows well-performing districts to lower their contribution to special education in years when the federal government increases funding for the program.
Now a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report indicates that 44 percent of school districts plan to use special education funds for other purposes. The move comes as districts face huge budget gaps and officials say they have little choice but to tap any resource they can to stay afloat.
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So desperate are schools for the funds that in some cases states are altering or simply ignoring the benchmarks for achievement that were established in order for funding diversions to take place.
The pattern has some disability advocates concerned that money intended for special education students is instead going to school districts at large. And they are worried about what will happen when stimulus funds run out after the next school year since local special education funding will likely remain at lower levels, reports The Wall Street Journal. To read more click here.