The Mount Pleasant Board of Education has urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto recently passed legislation that would force school districts to take a student’s home life and cultural background into consideration when making special education placements.
Trustees unanimously voted at their July 11 meeting to officially lodge a protest against the measure, which could put some districts in a financial bind because it also requires them to pay reimbursement within 30 days of placement.
If signed by the governor, the legislation could be expensive for school districts, according to the resolution, especially when parents of special needs children would request private school programs rather than public school.
“The legislation leaves districts with high ethnic and religious populations subject to outlandish parental demands, jeopardizing funds budgeted for other special education students and the general population of the district; ignoring the fact that under the tax cap, unexpected funds must be taken from existing programs and services, hurting other students, ” Mount Pleasant’s resolution stated last week.
It also stated that committees on special education can only reimburse parents for private, unapproved placements when directed to do so by a hearing officer.
“This amounts to New York State’s first voucher program and one for only the wealthy; as only wealthy parents can afford to pay private, non-approved tuition payments and wait for reimbursement,” the resolution statement.
Mount Pleasant trustees approved the resolution at the request of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Guiney.
Board members panned the proposal as an unneeded burden on public schools.
“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” Trustee Chris Pinchiaroli said.
“It amounts to another unfunded mandate,” added Trustee Vincent D’Ambroso.
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