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Hawaii: State not meeting SPED goals; 25% of school budget goes to special ed

July 31, 2019, Honolulu Civil Beat: Feds: Hawaii Still Coming Up Short In Meeting Special Education Needs The Hawaii Department of Education, for the fifth year in a row, has fallen short of meeting requirements of a federal law governing special education services for school-aged children with disabilities. The DOE needs assistance implementing Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act based on its annual performance report, according to a June 20 letter from the U.S. DOE’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to Hawaii School Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. … At least 23 states have required assistance for two or more consecutive years. The feds also determine if a state meets the requirements of IDEA or needs intervention, at which point federal funding for special ed services would be at stake without a corrective action plan or compliance agreement…. “We are in the lower third of states in academic performance and that hasn’t changed over time. (The state’s) focus on vulnerable populations … is moving at a snail’s pace,” said Rocco, whose group serves as an advisory panel to assist the Hawaii DOE with meeting the needs of children with disabilities. …. The challenges for special ed students are evident in other areas like high rates of chronic absenteeism, and low graduation and college-going rates…. In the 2017-18 school year, special education students in Hawaii were suspended at a rate three times that of the general student population, according to SEAC. One recent analysis by the ACLU found that Hawaii’s disabled students were suspended for more days than average than other disabled students around the country and that the state had the highest arrest rate in the nation for students with disabilities. Roughly 10% of the state’s 179,000 K-12 public school students are classified as special ed, although SEAC believes that figure is too low. Nearly one-quarter of the DOE’s $2.1 billion operating budget is dedicated to providing special education services, while the state also receives federal grants to bolster services. …

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