ESSA, IDEA and Special Education Costs

ESSA, IDEA and Special Education Costs

Students receiving special education services deserve to have fully-funded mandates utilizing a continuum of services, eliminating caseload and class size restrictions, more flexibility with staff and appropriate assessments.

Berrien County and its local school districts wish to see special education mandates fully-funded while increasing flexibility and cost efficiency in the delivery of special education services. This includes:

  • The creation of a full continuum of services which includes the use of all state agencies.
  • The development of special education identification program rules that eliminate stereotypes, prejudices and barriers to effective programming, such as restricting caseloads and class size mandates that are not based on research.
  • The removal of restriction in the area of staff qualification that serve to limit the provision of more flexible and integrated services.
  • Academic performance standards and assessments that are appropriate for the unique learning needs of students with disabilities.
    (Source: MASA Legislative Program 2013-14, and still applicable)

Cyber Schools

Additionally, it is recommended that cyber schools (specifically privately operated entities) not be permitted to capture special education dollars to benefit their students. Currently, cyber schools have the ability to solicit funds from a student’s home district/ISD to offset the cyber school’s special education costs. The district/ISD is not educating the student nor do they have any role in the services being provided.

Call to Action

  • Protect Medicaid in schools. Support legislation that will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of Medicaid in schools, both in terms of scope of access to students and paperwork/administrative burden to schools. (Source: Association of Educational Service Agencies)
  • Ensure appropriate mental health services in schools are reimbursable under Medicaid.
  • Oppose voucher programs.

Did you know?

  • In 2017-18, Berrien RESA worked with Berrien County school districts to capture $2.6 million in reimbursable Medicaid costs.
  • Berrien County’s special education population is 11.3 percent of the total student population. The state average is 13 percent. (

Current Legislation

Bill Number
 SB 509 Creates certain resources for parents and legal guardians of deaf and hard of hearing children.
SR 866
IDEA Full Funding Act.
HR 1878
IDEA Full Funding Act.
HR 1109
To amend the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend projects relating to children and to provide access to school-based comprehensive mental health programs.
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