Thursday, August 30, 2012


By Tom Chorneau, SI&A Cabinet Report  |

Thursday, August 30, 2012  ::  In a cost-cutting move that has near unanimous opposition from schools, a majority in the state Senate moved Wednesday to back a plan to eliminate most state funding tied to school management behavior issues of special education students.

The preparation and management of Behavioral Intervention Plans has been a longstanding state mandate on schools – but under AB 1476, most of the state law requiring the program would be removed.

But repealing the requirement is not good news for schools because the federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, will likely still mandate many of the same activities. With the state mandate removed, however, schools would no longer receive state support for the often complex and expensive activities.

Opponents include the Association of California School Administrators, California School Boards Association, California Teachers Association, Los Angeles Unified School District and San Diego Unified – among many others.

In a letter to members of the Assembly – where the bill will next be considered – critics argued that the bill contemplates a major policy change on a last-minute basis before interest groups have had a chance to fully vet the bill.

“The language in the bill is not precise, with several technical errors, which could result in unintended consequences and the creation of new mandates,” the opposition letter read. “California already spends millions of dollars annually to resolve special education due process cases, many of which are the result of poorly written special education law and regulations.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers continued to plow through scores of bills as they face Friday night’s session close.

Among the bills approved and sent to the governor was

AB 644 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys, authorizes school districts to claim revenue limit attendance for high school students enrolled in online courses, where the teacher is also participating in real-time.

The bill helps resolve a major problem facing districts interested in promoting classes using the internet but locked into a school funding formula that is based on the count of students attending class.

Currently, the state supports online learning but requires extensive paperwork from districts – so much so that it has inhibited its use.

AB 644 would require the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop rules for implementing the law, including how school districts include pupil attendance in online courses in the calculation of ADA and how to ensure a pupil meets the minimum instructional time under existing law.

Also moved ahead Wednesday:

· AB 1246 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, would provide for a new adoption of mathematic instructional materials in 2014. The bill would also impose a new fee on publishers to help pay for the adoption and makes a number of changes to the state’s process for providing new textbooks to K-8 public schools that are aligned to the new common core content standards.

· AB 1811 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Martinez, would phase in a new method for computing the funding entitlement for a high school that is converted into a charter to account for an existing differential.

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