Current as of: 2010
(a) Annually, the commissioner shall report to the state board regarding:
(1) special education expenditures by school districts;
(2) the rate of growth or decrease in special education costs, including the identity of high and low spending districts;
(3) outcomes for special education students;
(4) the availability of special education staff;
(5) the consistency of special education program implementation statewide;
(6) the status of the education support systems in school districts; and
(7) a statewide summary of the special education student count, including:
(A) the percentage of the total average daily membership represented by special education students statewide and by school district;
(B) the percentage of special education students by disability category; and
(C) the percentage of special education students by in-district placement, day placement, and residential placement.
(b) The commissioner's report shall include the following data for both high and low spending districts:
(1) each district's special education staff-to-child count ratios as compared to the state average, including a breakdown of ratios by staffing categories;
(2) each district's percentage of students in day programs and residential placements as compared to the state average of students in those placements and information about the categories of disabilities for the students in such placements;
(3) whether the district was in compliance with section 2901 of this title;
(4) any unusual community characteristics in each district relevant to special education placements;
(5) a review of high and low spending districts' special education student count patterns over time;
(6) a review of the district's compliance with federal and state requirements to provide a free, appropriate public education to eligible students; and
(7) any other factors affecting its spending.
(c) The commissioner shall review low spending districts to determine the reasons for their spending patterns and whether those districts used cost-effective strategies appropriate to replicate in other districts.
(d) For the purposes of this section, a "high spending district" is a school district that, in the previous school year, spent at least 20 percent more than the statewide average of special education eligible costs per average daily membership. Also for the purposes of this section, a "low spending district" is a school district that, in the previous school year, spent no more than 80 percent of the statewide average of special education eligible costs per average daily membership.
(e) The commissioner and department staff shall assist the high spending districts, who have been identified in subsection (a) of this section and have not presented an explanation for their spending that is satisfactory to the commissioner, to identify reasonable alternatives and to develop a remediation plan. Development of the remediation plan shall include an on-site review. The district shall have two years to make progress on the remediation plan. At the conclusion of the two years or earlier, the district shall report its progress on the remediation plan.
(f) Within 30 days of receipt of the district's report of progress, the commissioner shall notify the district that its progress is either satisfactory or not satisfactory.
(1) If the district fails to make satisfactory progress, the commissioner shall notify the district that, in the ensuing school year, the commissioner shall withhold 10 percent of the district's special education expenditures reimbursement pending satisfactory compliance with the plan.
(2) If the district fails to make satisfactory progress after the first year of withholding, 10 percent shall be withheld in each subsequent year pending satisfactory compliance with the plan; provided, however, before funds are withheld in any year under this subdivision (f)(2), the district shall explain to the state board of education either the reasons the district believes it made satisfactory progress on the remediation plan or the reasons it failed to do so. The board's decision whether to withhold funds under this subdivision shall be final.
(3) If the district makes satisfactory progress under any subdivision of this subsection, the commissioner shall release to the district any special education expenditures reimbursement withheld for the prior fiscal year only.
(g) Within 10 days after receiving the commissioner's notice under subdivision (f)(1) of this section, the district may challenge the commissioner's decision by filing a written objection to the state board of education outlining the reasons the district believes it made satisfactory progress on the remediation plan. The commissioner may file a written response within 10 days after the district's objection is filed. The board may give the district and the commissioner an opportunity to be heard. The board's decision shall be final. The state shall withhold no portion of the district's reimbursement before the state board issues its decision under this subsection.
(h) Nothing in this section shall prevent a school district from seeking and receiving the technical assistance of department staff to reduce its special education spending. (Added 1997, No. 60, § 31, eff. June 26, 1997; amended 1997, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 115, eff. March 11, 1998; 1999, No. 117 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2007, No. 82, § 10.)
U.S. Code Provisions: Students with Disabilities