Executive Director Judith Sandalow testified at the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget hearing for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, expressing concern over a $2.1 million cut to the special education budget, which threatens to roll back the significant progress that the District has made in recent years in protecting the rights of children with disabilities. It is not clear where the cuts will be made and Sandalow urged the Council fully understand of the implications of the cuts before moving forward.
One cut that is clear is the reduction of the number of special education hearing officers from seventeen to eleven, which will likely delay due process hearings, slow the District’s exit from the Blackman Jones class action lawsuit and cost the District money.
Sandalow also highlighted a new proposal requiring parents to pay for a due process hearing transcript. This change is expected to generate a small amount of revenue – $25,000 – while placing an inappropriate burden on low-income parents. Further, it is unclear if OSSE can legally charge for these transcripts.
Sandalow did point out several bright points in the OSSE budget: increases in funding for training and technical assistance, compliance and monitoring, and the DC Early Intervention Program. She encouraged the Council to protect these modest increases.
Read the full testimony.