Rochester, NY: SPED at 20%; "whopping" increases

July 19, 2017, Rochester (NY) City Newspaper: Frustrated board wrestles with special ed Rochester school board member Malik Evans isn't known for theatrics or public outbursts, but at a recent board meeting, Evans had enough. Special education consultant Judy Elliott was bluntly describing a broken system. But she wasn't more than 15 minutes into her presentation when Evans began fidgeting in his seat and interrupting her with questions…. The district hired Elliott earlier this year to look at special education: how students with disabilities are identified and given the services they need and what results from those efforts. The report was the latest of many – going back years –with similarly condemning findings. Elliott's report raised challenging questions for the school board. Why, for instance, have referrals for special education shot up by a whopping 93 percent during the last few years, while the district's enrollment has declined? The large number of special education referrals is overwhelming the district's ability to manage them, Elliott said. And why does the district's special education enrollment hover at nearly 20 percent, when the national average for large school districts is around 12 percent?