House Concurrent Resolution #34, introduced today by State Rep. Kevin Hensley and Senator Nicole Poore would look at the costs of special education in Delaware. Another task force, with the usual representation. A bunch of people sitting around a table, half of which won’t have a clue what they have jumped into. The Delaware Way. But here is the catch with this one: most of the spending going on with special education is based on federal mandate based on IDEA.
I have a hunch what some of the impetus for this is. For years, districts have been complaining about McAndrews Law Firm. Most of these cases wind up in settlements and the districts are crying foul on this. But, if the districts and charters were doing the right thing to begin with, none of these cases would get to that point. McAndrews won’t even take a case unless it has merit. They won’t take a case based on a notice of meeting not going out once or twice.
Good luck with this task force trying to figure out WHY special education placements are increasing. It doesn’t really matter why. What matters is that they are and our General Assembly better find out how to wrap their arms around it instead of ducking the issues. I can say most of the kids who lived in my neighborhood that were home one summer day in 2006 were subjected to nasty fumes coming from an accident at the old Reichhold Chemical Plant in Cheswold. They all have disabilities of one sort or another. My son is one of them. We live in a polluted state. I highly doubt this task force would look at things like that.
Are all special education placements valid? I don’t know. I know Response to Intervention is horrible. Standardized testing should never be a measurement of whether a kid needs special education. Autism rates have been soaring for over a decade now. I just hope the Delaware DOE doesn’t put a gag order on district teachers and administrators like they did with the IEP Task Force. They told districts and charters NOT to have anyone give public comment at those meetings.
Still, not one peep about giving Basic Special Education costs for kids in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. We don’t need another task force to figure out that no-brainer. If they really want to care, how about they allow our Auditor of Accounts office to FULLY audit every single penny in special education along with ALL of education. We know the money isn’t always going where it needs to. But Delaware loves their task forces to give some crappy illusion of people wanting to do the right thing. How about just following the law to begin with?