In what’s believed to be a first-of-its-kind move, federal education officials recently granted waivers to at least two states allowing them to scale back special education funding.

The one-year waivers — which the Department of Education is permitted to authorize under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in “exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances” — were granted to Iowa and Kansas. South Carolina officials are also requesting a waiver.

Special education is generally considered untouchable even during lean times since states face penalties for docking such funding from one year to the next. But a waiver allows states to cut spending without ramifications.

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For Iowa, gaining a waiver means the state will be relieved of about $38 million in obligations. Most communities are expected to increase property taxes to make up for the shortfall in education funds.

Advocates say they believe the recent requests mark the first time the IDEA loophole has ever been utilized because of strained finances. And they fear it’s the beginning of a trend, as nearly all states face rough economic situations and ballooning special education bills, reports Education Week. To read more click here.

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