School Board advocates for full federal funding of special-education programs

Sept. 12

(This resolution appears in its original form. If amended by board action, please click to see the final version.)

 
Dr. Rodriguez, Mr. Melvoin, Ms. Gonez, Ms. García – Urging the Federal Government to Meet
Its Commitment to America’s Children and Schools by Supporting the IDEA Full Funding Act
(Res-002-17/18) (Noticed August 22, 2017)

Whereas, In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with
the goal of guaranteeing that every child with disabilities have the opportunity to reach his or her
full potential through education;
 
Whereas, At the time IDEA became law, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of
the national average per pupil expenditure for special education;
 
Whereas, Federal funding has never come close to reaching the promised 40 percent: current
federal funding makes up just 15.7 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special
education;
 
Whereas, The closest the federal government has come to reaching its 40 percent commitment
was 18 percent in 2005, and the President’s proposed funding level for FY18 would decrease
IDEA funding to levels established more than a decade ago; further decreases IDEA funding
from FY17 levels;
 
Whereas, The chronic underfunding of IDEA by the federal government places an additional
funding burden on states, local school districts, and taxpayers to pay for needed services, and
often means using local budget dollars to cover the federal shortfall, ultimately shortchanging
other school programs that students with disabilities often also benefit from;
 
Whereas, Based on L.A. Unified’s 2017-2018 final budget, the District spends $932 million from
its general fund to support the special education program which is 57% of the total program cost
of $1.6 billion;
 
Whereas, Investing in IDEA is an investment in our nation’s students and their future and
indicates that Congress is serious in meeting its commitment to helping school districts support
all students;
 
Whereas, The bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act, H.R. 2902, would require regular increases in
IDEA spending to finally meet the federal commitment to America’s children and schools,
relieve the burden on states and local school districts, and ensure educational opportunities for all
students with disabilities;
 
Whereas, Based on L.A. Unified’s 2017-2018 final budget, the District spends $932 million from
its general fund to support the special education program which is 57% of the total program cost
of $1.6 billion;
 
Whereas, the District would have received approximately $180 million additional dollars
annually over recent past years if the federal government provided the full 40% federal funding
commitment;
 
Whereas, While services for students with moderate to severe disabilities require more expensive
services, the District does not receive any revenue based on type of disability;

Resolved, That the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District hereby supports
the passage of the IDEA Full Funding Act, H.R. 2902, and requests that the Superintendent to
vehemently and aggressively actively lobby and advocate for its passage through sustained,
coordinated, and strategic efforts with its federal representatives, national professional
associations, member organizations and relevant stakeholder partners to pass this legislative bill
into law utilizing all appropriate advocacy efforts including via testimony at congressional
committee hearings, meetings with legislators, federal lawmakers and their staffs, legislative
committee members and their staffs, Administration officials, federal agencies, and other such
efforts as appropriate; and,
 
Resolved, That the Superintendent keep the Board apprised of its advocacy efforts through
regular reports should any important updates and or information arise and create an advocacy
plan to present to the board when appropriate.