Education Law Center of Pennsylvania

Report: State Underfunding of Special Education in Pennsylvania

Posted on January 8, 2019

Shortchanging Children with Disabilities: State Underfunding of Special Education in Pennsylvania
October 2018

The trajectory of a person’s life is profoundly shaped by what happens in school. For students with disabilities, the stakes could not be higher, as these children are more likely to face unemployment and underemployment later in life, leading to homelessness or institutional placement. Prior to the adoption of federal and state civil rights laws, these students were literally shut out of school. Today, we recognize that students with disabilities need and are legally entitled to a free and appropriate public education (“FAPE”) in the least restrictive environment.

Providing a FAPE to children with disabilities involves providing specialized instruction tailored to meet their unique needs, integration in the regular classroom with supplemental supports and services, and providing an education calculated to achieve grade advancement and true progress in light of their potential.
Under the law, needed educational services must be provided through a combination of federal, state, and local funding, without additional cost to parents or students.

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