New Mexico's Congressional Delegation today sent a letter encouraging the U.S. Department of Education to give serious consideration to the New Mexico Public Education Department's (NMPED) waiver request to avoid a reduction in the state's special education funding.
"Educating students with special needs is a serious shared responsibility between the state and the federal government," the delegation wrote to Secretary Duncan. "The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding plays a very important role in maintaining the federal standard for a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all students with disabilities. New Mexico has almost 46,000 special-education children enrolled in public schools who depend on these crucial services."
Due to the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) special education requirement in IDEA, states must maintain their share of special education spending to ensure that they use federal funding to enhance their services rather than supplement state funds.
The Department of Education is concerned that NMPED may have cut their special education spending in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, resulting in a potential penalty that would reduce the state's share of IDEA federal funding.
In August and September 2012, NMPED submitted waiver requests to avoid the potential loss of federal funding. The Department of Education recently extended the deadline for the state to submit any final financial documents that support its request.
"We appreciate your department's willingness to continue to grant waiver deadline extensions to ensure the State of New Mexico has the opportunity to provide additional data to support the waiver application," the delegation continued. "We have urged NMPED and the New Mexico Legislature to work cooperatively with your department to meet the new Feb. 15 deadline and we respectfully request you give New Mexico's waiver request your full consideration."
To view the full letter from the delegation: