Law Center responds to District’s reduction of special education aides

Over 150 special education aides in the School District of Philadelphia began to receive layoff notices on Thursday, potentially in violation of the law.

Sonja Kerr, the Law Center’s director of disability rights, wrote a letter to Hite and School Reform Commission chair Bill Green requesting more information and urging caution in terms of the layoffs of special education aides.

In the letter she stated that the assignment of aides to students is an Individualized Education Program (IEP) decision, and a reduction of aides would likely violate many IEPs.  “Secondly, if the replacement of aides leads to less qualified aides, that would be contrary to the law,” Kerr said.

The District may also be in violation of a Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirement that it provide at least as much funding for special education this school year as it was supposed to provide in 2013-2014.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 157 special-education classroom assistants are on the layoff list. If a cigarette tax is not approved by August 15, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said that he would have to begin a larger wave of layoffs (1,300 employees) and would consider delaying the opening of the school year.

Click here to read the letter sent to Hite and Green.

Click here to read the Philadelphia Inquirer article about the District layoffs.