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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4567

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Report: Special education funding in California 'unequal'

As a parent of a child in a special education program, you are probably well aware of the individualized attention required in their schooling. When you sat down with the school to discuss your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP), the school explained the parameters for your child's education and progress based on their needs. What goes on behind the scenes to shape these programs?

While you see the end goals and objectives of your child's special education, do you understand what goes on to meet them? Because special education requires individualized attention, schools are often required to hire additional staff to take on the job. However, federal and state funding for special education staff and the programs they lead was recently called "very unequal," according to a report by Voice of San Diego, a non-profit news organization.

Special education costs on the rise for local schools

Recent cuts in federal and state aid to special education programs have put more of a funding burden on the local schools themselves, according to VOSD, with bigger shortfalls landing on districts with declining populations and lower costs of living.

These numbers should be especially concerning to parents in Santa Cruz County, which has among the highest share of students with educational disabilities in the state, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

PPIC points out three areas in which students with educational needs are most at risk:

  • Mental health care
  • Out-of-home care
  • Infant care programs

What does this mean for parents?

Raising a child with special education needs can be challenging enough at home, but thinking that they aren't getting the help they need at school could leave you feeling powerless. However, you can take action by emphasizing the importance of your child's IEP, which schools are required to provide.

Additionally, parents have legal options to hold their school accountable to the plan. An IEP should be considered an evolving process and may be worth reconsidering when factors such as special education funding could affect your child's learning.

Children don't deserve to be shortchanged by the system and neither should you as a parent limit your own options when voicing concerns. When you are aware of the resources available in strengthening your child's IEP, you can be in a better position to ensure that it is carried out to meet their needs.

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