The Extraordinary Cost Fund for Special Education Study completed their work this week in Pierre, preparing to offer a number of recommendations to the legislature as a whole.
Two pieces of proposed legislation caught my eye as part of the proposals being offered by the study.
First is an Act to establish the Extraordinary Cost Oversight Board with members from the Department of education and several school districts.
And second is an Act to create the Special Eduction Task Force:
The first task force is to seemingly place the already existing Extraordinary Cost Fund, which helps School Districts meet unanticipated expenditures in the area of special education, under tighter statutory control.
The second has the stated purpose “to examine the rising numbers of students in South Dakota schools who are being identified as in need of special education or special education and related services, to examine the increasing costs of the services these students require, and to develop recommendations to address the situation.”
One thing that comes across as a glaring – and one might consider an egregious sin of omission – is that in both groups as they talk about appointing superintendents, legislators, bureaucrats, and a teacher and disability advocate in the second one for good measure, they seem to have forgotten someone.
In all this talk about bringing people to the table to discuss the problems and expenses we’re experiencing in special education, they forgot to make sure that an important group in all of this also had a seat at the table.
Especially when it comes to children with disabilities who require special education services, parents are a huge part of the equation. Parents are at the IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings. Parents are often the ones pressing for services wen they see their children struggling, or that their needs aren’t being met. Parents are also the ones who will walk in the door demanding a hearing, or file a lawsuit in state or federal court that their child was not given access to FAPE (free and appropriate public education).
I could go on, but you get the point.
There’s been meetings to try to work out some solutions for government. And that’s not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. But in all of this process, at no point should we forget that parents are an important part of the equation in education.
And that parents are worthwhile in having a seat at the table to be part of the discussion among the politicians and bureaucrats on how they’re going to solve the challenges that educating their children pose.