The Legislature Should Pass the Special Education Mandate Relief Package Now
New York State imposes 227 distinct special education mandates above and beyond those required by federal law. In November 2011 the New York State Board of Regents approved a package of special education mandate relief measures as recommended by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Redesign Team. These reforms, included with other mandate relief measures in S6688/A10290, have been introduced in the legislature, and S6688 is on the Senate Education Committee agenda for today.
Eliminating costly mandates that do not improve the quality services offered by school districts is a priority and in the final month of session legislative leaders should bring these bills to a successful vote.
Important reforms in the bill include: aligning the membership of the teams that make decisions about special education services at the preschool and school age level with federal requirements, reducing administrative/paperwork requirements, and establishing more rational regional payment rates for certain service providers. In addition, the timeline for due process hearings would be shortened to prevent drawn-out and costly proceedings, and mediation would be required before disputes proceed to impartial hearings.
The Board of Regents has done its part by approving the package and changing regulations. Now it is time for the legislature to amend the laws. A full list of the special education mandate relief proposals included in the bills is presented below.
By Elizabeth Lynam and Melinda White