House Acts To Delay Special-Ed. Mandate
Washington--The House has voted to postpone the deadline for states to serve all handicapped preschool children.
The measure also would provide some help for states that might otherwise be short of special-education funds in the next fiscal year.
In 1986, the Congress added preschool grants to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. In doing so, it applied all the regulations pertaining to the original law to the new program. One such regulation provided that a state must serve all eligible children in a particular age group if it served at least 50 percent of them.
But, according to an aide to the4House Select Education Subcommittee, the intent of the 1986 law was to phase in the preschool program on a gradual basis, requiring states to serve all eligible children by 1991.
The bill passed by the House, HR 5334, would preserve that more gradual approach by exempting the preschool grants from the 50 percent regulation.
The bill also would allow states to carry over unspent grant money from one fiscal year to the next, aiding states that overestimated enrollments and received too much money. The Education Department planned to reduce their grants for the next fiscal year by the amount of the overpayments, leaving some8with less than anticipated and no way to spend any unused funds without legislative permission.
The bill also makes clear that the agency in each state that administers the program should be the primary recipient of grants for personnel training. Higher-education institutions could receive a state's share only if the agency did not apply for it.
The intent of the provision was to prevent the Education Department from requiring state agencies and institutions to compete for funds, as it had proposed last year.
The Senate was to consider the bill late last week or this week.