LAWMAKERS INFORMED THAT FUNDS TO EDUCATE AMITY REGION AUTISTIC STUDENTS WILL NOT HAVE TO BE DIVERTED
Issue Resolved For Now
Area legislators, at a recent meeting with State Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan, were pleased to learn that-for now- the Amity Regional School district will not have to divert 15% in federal special education funds to correct a problem of disproportionate identification of autistic students based on race. According to School Superintendent John Brady, this could have been as much as $100,000 during the next school year.
State Representative Paul Davis (D-117th District), State Representative Themis Klarides (R-114th District) and State Senator Joseph Crisco (D-17th District) have been working with state Department of Education, local and federal officials trying to help resolve a difficult issue that includes complex rules and regulations under the 2004 federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The problem began last year when the Amity Superintendent of Schools John Brady was informed by the state Department of Education that the district had too many white students who were diagnosed as autistic compared to other racial groups. Because of that number, the district faced the problem of having to divert 15% of their federal funding, which would be a significant financial hit to the instructional and support services provided by the program.
The notification from the state Department of Education set into motion an effort by legislators to communicate and meet with officials and at all levels in order to protect the funding used to educate autistic students which is very expensive.
The funds are administered by the state Department of Education, under federal guidelines which made resolving the matter more difficult.
“I am very pleased that for now, this issue has been resolved,” Rep. Davis said. “I want to thank State board of Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan for following up. Our local legislators will continue to work with the School District, State Department of Education and federal officials to find a permanent solution.”
“I was shocked to learn how random factors affecting the Amity Regional School District, well beyond the control or jurisdiction of local officials, were going to put at risk close to $100,000 in federal special education funding for the district, particularly in these most difficult economic times,” Senator Crisco said. “I’m pleased we found a solution to keep a well-intentioned, but obviously flawed federal law from unjustly penalizing special education students, the district in which they study, and the taxpayers of that district. I’m grateful to Congresswoman DeLauro, who was able to intervene on our behalf at the federal level to the benefit of all those involved with the Amity Regional Schools.”
“I’m glad federal funding for our Amity Regional School District will remain in tact. It’s unfortunate these well meaning guideline could have so negatively impacted our children at a time when schools and municipalities are already struggling with funds,” Rep. Klarides said. “Thankfully, thus unfortunate unintended situation affecting some of our neediest students in Amity was quickly resolved without ever compromising the quality of our children’s education.”