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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Special Education Costs

The Virginia Gazette reports on special education in the Williamsburg-James City County (Virginia) schools :
Among routine bills approved by the WJC School Board recently, one stood out: $63,500. That’s what it cost to send one local student to a special school for autism.

That’s high, but necessary for students with special needs. David Gaston, senior director for specialized educational services for WJC, explained the process.

Certain students with disabilities are eligible for special ed services under federal law. Their placement in school is determined by an IEP team, for Individualized Educational Program. Gaston said, “The team develops a program that will educate each student in the least-restrictive environment.”

IEPs have grown exponentially over the years to the point that some critics deride them as a crutch for parents. Today, 1 in every 7 students has such a plan in WJC — 1,529.

Some IEPs are easy: a student who needs to sit up front to better hear the teacher, or special considerations to ensure that school work is done.

Others are subtle, such as allowing a student to take exams orally as opposed to written. Other IEPs help the extremely disabled with a full-time nurse at school.

Still others leave the campus.