Money given for special education

The Associated Press
Friday October 27, 2000

SACRAMENTO — School districts that have been complaining for 20 years that the state has shortchanged them for special education will get $520 million for past costs and $100 million more a year, Gov. Gray Davis announced Thursday. 

“All sides agree that this settlement puts the problem behind us once and for all and adequately funds our important special education programs,” Davis said in a statement. 

The California School Board Association, which has led the legal and negotiating battle, applauded the settlement. 

CSBA executive director Davis Campbell said the governor and his team “negotiated in good faith and their support for the settlement is a huge contribution to special education programs.” 

The governor said the $520 million in retroactive payments will be doled out over 11 years. The state will give school districts $270 million for the current year and $25 million in each of the following 10 years. 

He also agreed to increase special education funding by $100 million a year, a 3.5 percent increase that begins July 1, 2001. 

The Legislature, which returns in December, will have to approve the funding. 

The lawsuit was first filed by Riverside County in 1981. Other school districts joined the lawsuit as it made its way through the courts. 

The districts claimed the state did not give them sufficient money to pay for services the state required districts to provide for special education students.  

The state had always maintained that the general funding provided districts was sufficient. 

The constitution requires the state to reimburse local governments, including school districts, for things it requires them to do. 

An appellate court judge ruled that the state had to pay for specific programs that were required by state law but exceeded federal mandates.