U.S. Department of Education Reaches Settlement with South Carolina Department of Education on Funding for Children with Disabilities

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U.S. Department of Education Reaches Settlement with South Carolina Department of Education on Funding for Children with Disabilities

August 25, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced today that it has reached an agreement with the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE), settling the litigation involving the Department’s claim of South Carolina’s failure to maintain state financial support for special education and related services. This settlement will bolster the Department’s commitment to ensure compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), maintain funding levels in South Carolina, and direct additional funds toward improving results for children with disabilities.

The Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a proposed determination that South Carolina had a shortfall in fiscal support for special education and related services for state fiscal year (SFY) 2010 of $51,336,578 and also noted potential shortfalls in SFYs 2011, 2012 and 2013. SCDE requested a hearing regarding that proposed determination, and the issue was not resolved until this settlement.

Under IDEA, a state must make available at least the same amount of financial support for special education and related services for children with disabilities each year as it did in the prior year. The consequence for failing to maintain financial support is a mandatory reduction in a future year’s IDEA allocation by the amount of the shortfall.

“This settlement is a victory for children with disabilities in South Carolina,” said Sue Swenson, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. “Our Administration is committed to ensuring that schools have the resources they need to provide necessary supports and services to children with disabilities to ensure that they can leave school ready for college and career. We look forward to working with the South Carolina Department of Education to fully and effectively implement the terms of this agreement.”

Key provisions of the agreement include the following:

  • The Department has agreed not to reduce SCDE’s IDEA grant in any future year based on failure to maintain financial support in state fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
  • In return, SCDE has agreed to appropriate additional state funds, above the amount required to maintain financial support under the IDEA, for special education and related services in the amount of $51,336,578.
  • These funds will be used by SCDE and its local educational agencies to implement programs and initiatives focusing on increasing reading proficiency for children with disabilities.
  • The funds will be appropriated over a period of not more than three years, and must be expended within four years.
  • The additional state funds will notcount in calculations used to determine how much the state must make available to meet the maintenance of financial support requirement in subsequent years.

Additional information on the agreement with the SCDE can be found here.