South Carolina will likely be penalized $36 million in federal money for students with disabilities this fall after the U.S. Department of Education denied the state’s request for a hearing to appeal the penalty. The penalty was the result of what the federal government said was an unjustifiable cut to the state’s special education budget.
The Education Department gave the state a year to find a way to come up with the $36 million it faces losing, permanently, by putting off the penalty until this October. Earlier this year, the state was denied another one-year delay.
Federal education disability law allows spending cuts at the state level only with federal permission, and only in cases of extreme financial hardship or natural disasters.
South Carolina spends about $410 million annually on its 100,000 students with disabilities. State Superintendent Mick Zais had already asked the state legislature to add $36 million to his agency’s budget in case the extension was denied, but he told the Associated Press he’s not done fighting with the federal government. Now, he’ll go through the courts and Congress.
A version of this article appeared in the June 13, 2012 edition of Education Week as Special Ed. Penalty Stands for S.C.