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  El Cerrito   Schools   [Regional]   History   Lifestyle   Opinion   Election  

Settlement over special education costs

SACRAMENTO -- After months of negotiations, Gov. Davis Oct. 26 announced a landmark agreement ending the 20-year-old legal battle over the special education mandated cost claims.

Since 1980, when the state began requiring that students in special education be provided services beyond what the federal government requires, school districts and county offices of education have been drawing on their general funds to cover the costly services.

This has put a squeeze on a lot of school districts. But an analysis by School Services of California presented to the local school board in January noted that the West Contra Costa Unified School District is particularly hard hit.

The settlement must be OKed by the Legislature but Richard Hamilton of CSBA said that no difficulty is expected with that approval.

While the settlement relieves WCCUSD and other districts of the state shortfall, they must still contend with the gap between what the federal government requires and what it pays for.

"We deeply appreciate the fact that the governor and his team stayed with us on a very complex issue," said California School Boards Association Executive Director Davis Campbell. "They negotiated in good faith and their support for the settlement is a huge contribution to special education programs."

The test claim filed by the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools in 1981 has weathered numerous legal challenges. In 1995, CSBA's Education Legal Alliance, School Services of California Inc. and its Education Mandated Cost Network, and Long Beach Unified School District joined in the legal battle. On June 5, the Commission on State Mandates took action initiating a claims process whereby school districts would be reimbursed for their special education costs.

"This settlement affords school districts the opportunity to focus on what is really important - educating California's students and implementing programs targeting student achievement, rather than spending time and resources locating documents and receipts for the past 20 years," stated Governor Davis.

"CSBA is very pleased by the leadership shown by Governor Davis," said CSBA President Jeff Horton. "He delivered a special education settlement that is truly fair to all parties involved."

CSBA and the Alliance, School Services of California Inc. and the Network, California Teachers Association, and California Association of School Business Officials have worked with the governor's administration to reach this settlement.

Run dates: 2000-10-26 - 2000-11-03

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