In a word, no.
Here’s what we know:
- There are 23,140 students attending Huntsville City Schools. 2,889 of them receive some form of Special Education. The Special Education Student Population represents approximately 12% of the total student population.
- 47% of the first round cuts came from Special Education. There were 137 cuts made in the first round. Of those cuts, 65 were Instructional Aides. So far as I have been able to determine, there are no Instructional Aides employed by HCS in areas other than Special Education. (I’ve placed this question before numerous teachers, administrators, and employment agencies. Each have confirmed that the Instructional Aides employed by HCS all work in and with Special Education students.)
- There have been a total of 420 personnel cuts in the system. 216 of those cuts come from “Contracted Support Personnel.” An additional 122 of these cuts were described by Dr. Richardson as “Support Employees.” Thus 80% of the cuts announced so far are described as “Support.” Instructional Aides are classified as “Support.”
It is a reasonable assumption that nearly 80% of the personnel cuts are from people who work directly with Special Needs students. This does not take into consideration the Special Education Teachers who are among the 154 non-tenured that will also be released. This also doesn’t take into account the loss of the Adapted PE teachers who work exclusively with special needs students who are being released.
Simply put, Special Education is receiving the vast majority (perhaps as high as 80%) of the cuts that are being made to Huntsville City Schools despite Dr. Moore’s claim that the cuts would be applied “across the board.” These cuts are not being made across the board. Special Education is receiving the bulk of the cuts.
This is not fair.
Moreover, it is not legal.
Alabama State Code Section 16-39-3 – Education required for exceptional children; source of funds states:
Each School Board shall provide not less than 12 consecutive years of appropriate instruction and special services for exceptional children, beginning with those six years of age, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Such public school instruction and special services shall be made available at public expense for each school year to exceptional children as provided herein. The funds for such instruction and special services shall be derived from state, county, municipal, district, federal or other sources. Each school board shall set aside from its revenues from all such sources such amounts as are needed to carry out the provisions of this chapter, if such funds are available without impairment of regular classes and services provided for nonexceptional children. If sufficient funds are not available to a school board to provide fully for all the provisions of this chapter as well as the educational needs of nonexceptional children, such board must prorate all funds on a per capita basis between exceptional and nonexceptional children basis between exceptional and nonexceptional children.
Therefore, cuts impacting Special Education should not total more than 12% of the total overall cuts. The first round of cuts alone represented 47%.
Ms. Sledge, Dr. Moore, Dr. Richardson and the Huntsville Board of Education are attempting to balance the budget on the backs of Special Needs kids. This is not fair. It is not legal. It is not moral.
Again, if anyone of these individuals would like to dispute my numbers or calculations, I will be happy to look at the actual numbers and publish a correction. However, I am certain that I will not hear from them simply because they know that the numbers will show that Special Education is not being treated fairly in these cuts.