Sample Board Resolution on Special Education Vouchers

The following is a sample resolution for school boards on a provision in the omnibus K-12 proposal approved by the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.  The following can be used in the formal resolution format presented or in more personal letter format.  Remember to provide copies of board resolutions to your legislators, the governor, local media, parent groups and the WASB.  Click here for a PDF version.

WHEREAS, the school board, administrators, teachers, staff, parents and community members of the (insert district) are united in our effort to provide all children, including those with disabilities,  with the highest quality educational opportunities possible; and

WHEREAS, schools need to be accountable for the achievement of all students and should be required to evaluate and report educational progress and outcomes for every student; and

WHEREAS, parents of children with special education needs have a right to be informed and to understand the services their child is entitled to receive and be able to hold the school accountable for providing those individualized services for their child; and

WHEREAS, the Joint Finance Committee recently approved a plan to use tax dollars to provide vouchers for students with disabilities or other special educational needs to attend a private school; and

WHEREAS, students with disabilities who would attend private schools through such a voucher plan would lose important legal protections to which they are entitled in public schools, including protections under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) such as the right to: a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment; legal due process; transition services; certified staff who are specially trained to teach them effectively; an age-appropriate, approved curriculum; and the right to not be disciplined for 10 or more days or expelled for behavior that is a manifestation of their disability; and

WHEREAS, disability rights organizations have opposed the creation of special needs vouchers because of concerns about the protections students with special educational needs would lose in private schools;

WHEREAS, the proposed special needs voucher amount is $12,000 dollars and there are no income limitations to participate in the program; and

WHEREAS, for the first time, the voucher amount is funded using a “money follows the student” approach modelled on public school open enrollment in which the general (equalization) aid that would otherwise be paid to the student’s district of residence will reduced by an amount equal to the special needs vouchers paid to all eligible private schools on behalf of special education students attending from that district; and

WHEREAS, if the public school district did not receive a general aid payment sufficient to cover the amount of the aid reduction, the balance would be reduced from other state aid received by the district; and

WHEREAS, because public school districts can’t raise property taxes to make up for the aid funding they lose as a result, this is will be a further drain on resources to public school budgets, resulting in fewer opportunities for children in public schools as well as masking the true cost of the special needs voucher program; and

THEREFORE, Be It Resolved that the (insert school board) calls on Governor Scott Walker, (Your State Senator) and (Your State Representative) to remove taxpayer-funded special education vouchers from the state budget bill.  This important policy matter should receive a public hearing and an opportunity for input by the public.

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