Jul 12

5 ways to use stimulus funding to promote equity for students with disabilities

Note: This article was originally published on SpecialEdConnection.com and was reprinted with the permission of LRP Publications. 

Use data to convince districts to invest in equity of students with disabilities 

If a special education director gets pushback from his superintendent about where he thinks he should spend the COVID-19 relief funding to improve equity for students with disabilities, show him the data, said Lauren Krempecki, program manager at the Center for Learner Equity in New York, N.Y. 

“That scenario triggers an alarm bell of special education being siloed,” Krempecki said.  “That’s where I think the data become really important and a conversation about equity  needs to be put at the center.” 

If a superintendent shows reluctance to spend on improving MTSS, for example, share data on the number of special education referrals that have exploded in the wake of the pandemic and discuss how a stronger, more trauma-informed MTSS may prevent excessive referrals while also improving child find. 34 CFR 300.111 (a)(1)(i). 

“If you’re advocating for something that your data say is a real issue and this is the  solution that could make a real difference for your students, and you’re being told no, I  think you should go back to, ‘Well, what do we really believe about how our school  system should serve all students and certainly our students with disabilities?'”  Krempecki said. “[Are you hearing no] because it seems like only a small number of  students would be affected or because we think this other initiative is a better initiative  that is going to help more students and your students with disabilities are already  included in that?” 

Directors may want to ask their superintendent to explain what the school system believes about the education of students with disabilities, Krempecki said. 

“Sometimes it’s depressing how many people haven’t really thought about that,” she said. “With this huge influx of money, it’s going to tell the public where your priorities are. Now is the time for special education leaders to have a conversation with  themselves about this so they can have some passion in their arguments for how this  money should be spent.”

Directors should ensure what they believe about educating students with disabilities goes beyond the resource room, Krempecki said. 

“Hopefully your beliefs about students with disabilities look a lot like your beliefs about how all students should be educated,” she said. 

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