Aug 28, 2022

Schmidt: Leaders need to 'step up' on special education

Posted Aug 28, 2022 7:47 AM
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt 
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt 

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants to bring everyone together on special education funding in the next session of the Legislature, if he is elected governor in November.

"I think special ed funding is the next area," Schmidt said. "We have to bring policy makers, educators, families together and say, what are we going to do? I would much rather we do that through leadership from the governor and the legislature than wait around, not do it and wind up in the next lawsuit and end up having to deal with that in court. I do think it's critical to step up."

Schmidt admits that it isn't just the state level that has dropped the ball on special education funding.

"Congress has never fulfilled its obligation on the federal funding side," Schmidt said. "The federal promise has been to fund special education at 40%. I don't think they've ever gotten over about 15 or maybe the high teens, somewhere in that range. That, of course, is the elephant in the room. If Congress would only do half of what it promised, this problem would largely evaporate in states like Kansas, but it hasn't and so, as a result, the state has stepped in and also has really struggled to fill that gap."

Because of the unfunded federal mandates regarding special education, every underfunded dollar is being taken out of the general fund for everybody and shifted to special education, so, theoretically speaking at least, if the Kansas Supreme Court wanted to, they could weigh in on the issue through telling the legislature that they haven't really fulfilled Gannon until they stop this dollar shift from happening, since they have retained jurisdiction, though politically that isn't very likely.