WASHINGTON, D.C. — School districts may have more leeway to cut special education budgets now than in the past, Education Week reported.

In the past, school districts that permanently reduced their special education budgets faced possible loss of federal funding, with limited exceptions, Education Week reported. This was intended to protect special needs students from sudden changes in services due to shifting public spending or politics, advocates told Education Week.

But in a recent letter offering new guidance, the federal Department of Education said that districts won’t necessarily face sanctions for reducing spending on special education or be required to restore those cuts, according to Education Week.

Special education advocates said the guidance is worrisome, but federal officials said students remain protected by the legal requirement that districts provide them with a “free, appropriate education,” Education Week reported.

A representative of the American Association of School Administrators told Education Week that it is unfair to ask school districts to reduce general education programs while leaving all special education services intact.

SOURCE:

Education Week, “Feds Loosen Rules on Cutting Special Ed. Spending,” Aug. 31, 2011 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Specializing in special education,” Feb.1, 2010

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