Governor Cuomo the subject of intense lobbying over proposed changes to New York special education law
As reported on lohud.com, as Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York prepares to make a decision on a groundbreaking special education law change, which amends current state special education law and would require public schools to consider cultural influences like family environment when placing special needs children in programs.
After the legislation passed the state Senate and Assembly in mid-June, it went to the governor’s desk where he faces an August 1st deadline to either sign or veto the bill. Supporters of the legislation, including the Archdiocese of New York, see the change as a way for parents to have more control over where their special needs children are schooled, and get quick and total reimbursement for costs of private programs.
Critics, which include most of the state’s public educational community, call it another unfunded mandate that could cost millions of tax dollars, pit special needs children against regular education children and foster segregation. The state PTA, state school boards association, 37 local school boards and numerous individuals have written the governor opposing the measure or are collecting signatures on petitions asking the governor to veto it.
Bryan Burrell, executive director of the Rockland School Boards Association, said the legislation moved too quickly, without any public debate or discussion and that proponents did not do any cost analysis. He said it flies in the face of federal law, which requires special needs children to be in an inclusive environment that best suits their education needs – not segregated by religion, gender or philosophical bent.
The state’s special education requirements currently allow a parent to request a placement that includes cultural awareness, but does not require a district to make that a priority or pay for a private program it does not recommend. Parents who send their special needs children to a non-approved program pay for it themselves, although the public school district still provides transportation.
Source: lohud.com, 7/25/12, By Randi Weiner
[Editor's Note: Gov. Cuomo appears to have proven himself a tough negotiator. In February 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in School Book, which reported that New York state education officials and the state teachers’ union had reached an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system within hours of the deadline imposed by Gov. Cuomo. According to those involved in the negotiations, Cuomo had threatened to break the impasse by imposing his own way to judge the quality of a teacher’s work.]