An analysis of the excess cost of educating military connected handicapped children in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia

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1987
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Abstract

All branches of the military service have humanitarian transfer policies which require that consideration be given to the special educational and medical needs of dependent family members during the reassignment process. These policies may result in certain school districts serving a disproportionate number of military-connected handicapped children. Despite the federal financial assistance received by LEAs under P.L. 94-142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act) and P.L. 81-874 (School Assistance for Federally Affected Areas) the presence of these children may create a fiscal burden on the LEAs. This study sought to determine if seven school districts in the Tidewater area of Virginia served a disproportionate number of military connected handicapped children, what the additional costs were to the LEAs to educate these children, and what percentage of military parents of handicapped children were assigned to the Tidewater area due to the special educational needs of their children.

Analysis of the data indicated that 7.7% of the total military enrollment (40,824) of the seven school districts were enrolled in special education programs. This percentage is not considered disproportionate when compared with the 10.3% of the nonmilitary population enrolled in special education programs. A number of possible explanations were offered for these inconsistencies.

Per pupil costs were calculated for four self-contained programs in the Newport News School Division. Analysis of the data indicated that additional costs were incurred by the LEA to educate students in these high cost programs. These additional costs varied due to differing amounts of revenue received under P.L. 81-874 and the state reimbursement formula. It was concluded that the findings_of this study would be applicable only to the Newport News School Division and to the programs and settings that were investigated.

Nineteen percent of the parents of military-connected handicapped children from five school districts were surveyed. Analysis of the data indicated that 55% of those parents were familiar with the armed forces' humanitarian reassignment programs. Forty-one percent of those familiar with the humanitarian reassignment programs had requested a transfer to the Tidewater area on the basis of their child's special educational needs. A growing awareness of reassignment policies has implications for certain school divisions. These implications were presented and discussed.

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