Federal Direction Needed for Educating Handicapped Children in State Schools

HRD-78-6: Published: Mar 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1978.


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The Public Law 89-313 program was enacted in 1965 to make available federal funds to supplement limited state efforts in providing special educational services for institutionalized handicapped children. Because of changes in federal and state laws and advances in educational techniques and concepts, considerable confusion and conflict has arisen among program participants on what the federal program is intended to accomplish and the respective roles of federal and state governments in supporting education for the handicapped in state-operated and state-supported schools.

A basic structural question exists: whether the 89-313 program should continue as basic, relatively unrestricted support or be directed to provide a stimulus to states to increase their resources for educating institutionalized handicapped children. Targeting funds to a limited number of eligible children was originally permissable, but the enactment of Public Law 93-380 changed the concept by requiring that all children counted for 89-313 funding receive some benefit from that funding. Targeting is still taking place to a significant degree. Management of the 89-313 program at the federal level has been fragmented, limited, and complicated, and its visibility for congressional review and analysis has been severely restricted. Congress needs to clarify the direction of the program and the degree to which funds may be allocated within a state.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress should: clarify the direction of the 89-313 program by specifying whether funding is supplementary to a basic, State-financed educational activity or whether it should help finance the basic educational program itself; and clarify whether targeting is acceptable, and if so, to what extent it is acceptable. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare should direct the Commissioner of Education to make appropriate changes in 89-313 program guidelines and regulations based on advice received from Congress regarding the future purpose of the program. The Congress should transfer the 89-313 program from title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to the Education of the Handicapped Act.

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

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