South Carolina has been denied a second extension of a $36 million penalty in federal special education money, a penalty imposed because the state didn't spend enough money on special education during the 2009-10 school year.
In a letter earlier this month, Deputy Education Secretary Anthony Miller told South Carolina Superintendent Mick Zais the state had time to find $36 million in its state budget because it was already granted a delay of the federal penalty, which could have been imposed last July.
States that cut special education spending without getting federal permission first can be penalized: The U.S. Department of Education can cut the same amount of money from a state's federal share of special education dollars. These so-called "maintenance of effort" rules built into federal law are intended to buffer students with disabilities from dramatic changes in services educators have found they need.
States rarely have requested exceptions to keeping special education spending stable until the current recession.
The Education Department agreed that South Carolina's budget situation justified cutting some of its special education budget—the state originally faced a $111 million cut in federal special education funds—but not everything the state has cut over the last four years.
Read more of Nirvi Shah's On Special Education article HERE.