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Detroit Public Schools Gets $4.8 Million Special Education Funding Reinstated After 4 Years

Detroit Schools

First Posted: 10/06/11 06:41 PM ET Updated: 12/06/11 05:12 AM ET

Detroit Public Schools is in compliance with state and federal mandates for its Special Education evaluation system for the first time since 2007, DPS officials announced Thursday.

As a result, the district will receive $4.8 million in funding that was withheld during the 2010-2011 academic year. That figure accounts for 20 percent of the total federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that was requested, according to a DPS statement.

To comply with state and federal mandates, DPS increased the portion of students who spend at least 80 percent of their school day in general education settings to 38 percent of students in 2010-2011 from 27.8 percent in 2006. The district has also developed handbooks and systems for working with special education students, as well as improved training among staff.

"We have a ways to go but we are moving the dial in the right direction," DPS Spokeswoman Kisha Verdusco told The Detroit News. "Given the size of the district and the number of students, you are talking about hundreds and thousands of students for even 1 percent change."

The district had the lowest rates of special education children spending at least 80 percent of their time in general education in 2008 -- just 30.8 percent of DPS special education students fell in that category while the state average was 57 percent, according to The Detroit News.

The Michigan Department of Education requires that school districts comply with a number of Special Education State Performance Plan Indicators, which aim to ensure that students are provided with the resources they need and that districts comply with the IDEA and Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education.

The special education funding reinstatement comes amid major cuts across the district, and after news in the spring that a plan was in place to close half of the district's schools to help close a $327 million budget deficit. Instead, a new proposal later aimed to turn 41 schools into charter schools to cut operational costs.

DPS announced last month that it is also expecting to cut nearly 40 percent of its teachers over the next four years to help close the deficit.

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Filed by Emmeline Zhao  |