Sharon Academy headmaster discusses special ed bill requirements for independent schools

Senate Bill 229 is legislation that would expand special education requirements for independent schools that wish to accept students under Vermont’s school choice system.

Students in the school choice program utilize their tax-based public tuition dollars to pay for enrollment at an independent school. School choice is a great system that offers students the flexibility to enroll in academic programs that complement the public school system.

In this episode of Vote for Vermont, co-hosts Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley interview Sharon Academy Head of School Michael Livingston to discuss some of the challenges facing Vermont’s independent schools, including S.229.

On the surface, S.229 appears to be a benevolent bill. However, there are negative real-world impacts of implementing special education requirements in schools that are simply too small to handle it. One of the biggest concerns involves staffing requirements — simply put, the employee pool to meet the proposed requirements does not exist. Moreover, the state and federal paperwork required to accommodate special education students is overwhelming for small schools.

Watch full episode:

Image courtesy of Vote for Vermont/Pat McDonald

2 thoughts on “Sharon Academy headmaster discusses special ed bill requirements for independent schools

  1. “(3) An approved independent school shall provide such documentation to the Secretary as the Secretary deems necessary in order to ensure that amounts payable under this subsection to the school are reasonable in relation to the special education services provided by the school.”

    S.229 is all about the money and Independent schools shouldn’t be concerned about meeting financial capability obligations as long as the sending school district (LEA) pays its bills according to the agreed upon contract. Independent schools should have no problem establishing the necessary lines of credit required to pay related operating expenses as long as the sending school district that is ultimately responsible to pay the SPED costs does so in a timely fashion.

    And independent schools do not have to demonstrate the capability to provide SPED services for ALL disabilities just because they agree to provide the SPED services for one or more students with disabilities as designated by the student’s IEP Teams.

    So far, I see nothing in these provisions that Independent schools should be worried about.

    My concern is with H.897, the bill that authorizes the disbursement of special education money and gives all power to do so to the State Board of Education, not the IEP Team or the sending school district (LEA). These two bills, H.897 and S.229 are going to have to be reconciled one way or the other.

  2. The big public education monopoly loves terms such as, equity, non-discrimination and transparency. Unfortunately they only use these terms to create a narrative which is favorable to union jobs. Student success and outcomes are of little concern to the big public education monopoly. They want to eliminate the competition (independent schools) and force children to attend union staffed schools. The union controlled Vt education board is continuously creating regulations that make it more difficult for independent schools to exist. Pretty disgusting.

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