Sunday, June 27, 2010

Water in the Soup and Tighten Our Belts

Tough Times in Paradise

Let's face the facts. Times are tight and we all need to cut back and "tighten our belts." Schools, too, must add water to the soup and find many ways to save. In Hawaii, a place of great tropical beauty and climate, times are also tough. Hawaii is in the middle of a $1 billion budget short fall. Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has only one school district. To make up the $1 billion dollar deficit and tighten the belt, the school district contracted with the faculty to take unpaid days off. If a teacher worked in Hawaii for 10 months a year they had to take 17 Fridays off and if a teacher worked 12 months, they had to take 21 Fridays off. Here is the real problem. There is another contract involving the state of Hawaii. The contract is the IEP. Students with special needs and learning differences are required to get certain amounts of services per year. The teacher furloughs would effect these services.
Many Hawaiian parents of children with special needs are concerned and some have contacted lawyers. The lawyer many have contacted is Eric Sietz. Mr. Sietz is the same lawyer who argued on the side of parents of children with special needs in 1993. In 1993, a judge found the state of Hawaii in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. It was ruled that Hawaii was not providing mental health and other services to children with disabilities. Seven years after the initial judge's ruling, Hawaii was found in contempt of court because there was little improvement in services to children with special needs. In May of 2001, after Hawaii was found in contempt, $1.4 billion was spent to ramp up mental heath and special services to children in need. Sietz is a perfect and logical choice for parents in this current issue in Hawaii involving teacher furloughs.
The ironic things is that I am sure the $1.4 billion spent to revamp, increase and provided much needed services to special education children must be contributing in some way the the current 2009 budget crisis of $1 billion. What seems to me will happen in this new teacher furlough issues is that if the Hawaii school district does not find a way to provide specifically laid out accommodations and services for special needs children, Hawaii will be sued again. I am sure, since Hawaii is already budget short a $1 billion, another lawsuit is not going to help. Another lawsuit will defeat the purpose of budget reduction furloughs trying to solve deficit in the first place.

Monero, L. (2009). Hawaii parents may sue over furloughs. Honolulu Observer, Retrieved from

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