Save My Special Education Student

Dear Governor Corbett: 

As I wrote you earlier, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have introduced two identical bills that will cut the funding for Special Education Students potentially in half for PA Charter Schools Schools (HB 2138 – Republican PA Legislator Bernie O'Neill, Bucks County & SB 1316, Republican Senator Pat Browne, Allentown).

All PA Charter Schools take the IDEA(s) Law seriously. Charter Schools are sensitive to the needs of Special Education Students and provide a high level of support, extensive therapies and highly qualified staff.  Our school, PA Leadership Charter School spends 100% of the Special Education money sent to us directly on our Special Education Students.This legislation, if passed would place our school in a very tenuous position.

These identical bills affect Pennsylvania Charter Schools by changing the current process of funding for Special Education Students from local school districts to Charter Schools.The result will be to cut the Special Education portion of the student’s subsidy by 30-60 % (generally by half). The current formula establishes an average for all Special Ed Students that is paid for every student to a Charter School. 

The new formula begins with the basic regular education student allotment and multiplies that amount by 1.51% for every Special Education Student – if the money spent on that student is $25,000 or less.
So, for example, in Philadelphia, the current rate for funding for a Special Education Student is $22,242.  Under the new formula, the rate will be $8,596.72 (basic rate) x 1.51% = $12,979, a decrease of $9,263.  Under the new formula, Philadelphia Charter Schools will receive only 58% of what they are receiving this year for each of their Special Education Students.  This reduction will be phased in over a three year period

$12,399 – Philadelphia currently spends per regular education student. 

$22,242 – Philadelphia currently spends per Special Education student.  

$12,979 – The amount Philadelphia would send to a Charter School for the same Special Education Student under the new proposed formula.

The difference between the amount Philadelphia spends on a regular education student and a Special Education Student is $9,843.  Under this new legislation, the difference between the amount Philadelphia spends on a regular education student and the amount it will send to its Charter Schools for its Special Education Students will become $580!

Surely you would not have initiated a legislative process that would create such a disparity between traditional public schools and charter schools.In fact, this disparity will surely run afoul of the federal mandates to provide Free and Adequate Public Education to our Special Education Students. I fear that without your direct involvement to either veto this bill or restructure this formula, you will be greatly disappointing over 40,000 Special Education parents who have chosen Charter Schools for their children and 240,000 parents who will see their Charter Schools struggle with these arbitrary cuts. 

I will look forward to hearing from you as to your solution to this dilemma.

Dr. James Hanak, CEO
PA Leadership Charter School  

 Second Letter to Governor Corbett - Dr. James Hanak.

CEO, PA Leadership Charter School.