To receive federal IDEA funds to provide educational services to children with disabilities, states must meet certain eligibility requirements, including a requirement commonly referred to as “maintenance of state financial support” (MFS). Under Part B of the IDEA (which covers children ages 3–21), states are required to make available at least the same amount of state financial support from one year to the next for the education of children with disabilities. Additional information can be found in the next section:
On March 26, 2010, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) requested the U.S. Department of Education grant a waiver of maintenance of state financial support for the education of students with disabilities due to a precipitous and unforeseen downturn in economic conditions within the state. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) implementing regulations at 34 CFR § 300.163 require a state may not reduce the amount of financial support for special education and related services for children with disabilities below the amount of support for the preceding fiscal year. Further, this section permits the Secretary to grant a waiver when it would be equitable due to exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances such as an unforeseen decline in the financial resources of the state. Additional documentation was provided May 27, 2010 to support the request.
On July 6, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education granted West Virginia’s request for a waiver in the amount of $491,580, reflecting reduction in the state’s support for the high acuity fund for students with disabilities, a fund providing reimbursement to districts for high cost students on an individual basis, and for West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. School district entitlements for special education were not affected. The waiver was granted only for fiscal year 2009-2010.
The WVDE ensured students with disabilities continued to receive a free, appropriate public education during the waiver year. Additional federal funds for students with disabilities provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment during FY10 not only assisted LEAs with maintaining existing special education services but also contributed to increased opportunities for students.
Improved state revenue projections enabled the West Virginia Legislature during its 2011 session to restore FY11 funding for students with disabilities to the level prior to the waiver, thus assuring maintenance of state financial support. Additionally, the budget for fiscal year 2012 was increased, providing additional funding to the department for high acuity students with disabilities.
West Virginia’s original waiver request, additional documentation provided at the end of the fiscal year and the U. S. Department of Education’s letter granting the waiver are posted for public review. Please direct any questions to Shana Clay, Office of Special Education at (304) 558-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org