Hazleton, PA: The high cost of SPED

Aug 14, 2017, Hazleton (PA) Standard-Speaker: Special education: Another reason school district budgets are strained Very few students with special needs live at a private school like Woods Services of Langhorne, Bucks County, which sued the Hazleton Area School District over a student’s bill. While approximately 15 percent of students require special education services, perhaps 1 percent of them attend private schools like Woods Services. In the Hazleton Area case, Woods Services sought $226,450 for educating and housing a student during the summers of 2014 and 2015. The parties settled for $165,000, according to an agreement which the Hazleton Area School Board approved on June 29. The costs for students with the highest needs can disrupt a school district’s budget but are hard to anticipate, as illustrated in the Woods Services case. The student’s mother moved into Hazleton Area from the Parkland School District in Lehigh County in February 2014. Before that, she had lived in six other school districts in New York and Pennsylvania while her child lived at Woods Services. … Students who behave aggressively, however, might not fit in regular classrooms. “It’s not safe for the kid, the other kids and the staff,” he said. … Ten students, for example, attended the New Story School in Berwick, a day program that provides support for autism and behavior, the Hazleton Area’s “Special Education Plan Report” for 2015 to 2018 said. Likewise, Berwick Area Superintendent Wayne Brookhart said his district spent more than $300,000 a year to send five of its students to New Story for a year.

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