Monday, March 05, 2007

Cap on Number of Special Education Students Unconstitutional

This is good news- a Superior Court judge in Thurston County ruled that it is unconstitutional to place an artificial cap (now 12.7%) on the number of students requiring Special Education within a school district. Over-identification can occur, and the system can be abused, but an artificial cap will not ensure services are allocated to need. This is probably not the last word on this issue, this case may be appealed to higher courts.

Seattle Times: Cap on Special Education-Identified Students Unconstitutional


  1. Chritie9:21 PM

    This is not factual information. The "cap" that Judge McPhee refers to in his decision is first of all, acutally, an index because it is to be considered in conjunction with the Safety Net that was instituted as a result of a lawsuit that we, the Wa State Special Ed Coalition (WSSEC) filed and won in 1987. That suit was partially about an acutal cap on LD students. Judge Doran, in Wa State Special Ed Coalition v. State of Wa ruled that a Safety Net was needed. In this most recent case, the WSSEC found itself in the strange position of supporting the state. Some school districts were using special ed students as scapegoats. The state has a severe shortage of basic ed funds and our sp ed formula is based on basic ed funding. If you read the decision carefully you will see that the "cap" itself was not so much a problem as was a lack of addressing the overall problem of finding a way to meet the needs of students who might be over that "cap" either through the Safety Net or some other way. We had begged the school districts to hold off and join another group that we are part of, called N.E.W.S. - Network for Excellence in Wa Schools. That group is suing for the funding needed for basic ed, and thus for improvements for ALL students in our state. Please visit our website at for more info.

  2. Thanks for posting this additional information and link. Another newspaper story on the ruling is here:

    Funding for special education is certainly dire in Washington state.