DOD Dependents Schools:

Cost Issues Associated With the Special Education Program

HEHS-96-77: Published: May 13, 1996. Publicly Released: May 13, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's Dependents Schools (DODDS) special education program.

GAO found that: (1) from 1994 to 1995, DODDS provided special education assistance to 7,700 students; (2) DODDS cannot determine its total program costs because it does not track or report information regarding its total expenditures, its accounting system only segregates special education labor costs, and it combines other costs, such as equipment and supply costs, into the overall budget; (3) DODDS also does not track and report information on the additional costs it incurs to acquire services for special education students whose needs cannot be met by local DODDS schools, or to send special education students to non-DODDS schools; (4) DODDS officials believe that the number of students whose special education needs are not met is relatively small; (5) additional annual per student costs ranged from several hundred dollars for evaluation and monitoring to $60,000 for special transportation of teachers to a DODDS school that lacked special education services; (6) 15 students attended non-DODDS schools because the local DODDS school did not offer special education services or there wasn't a DODDS schools nearby; (7) DOD lack of adherence to policies and procedures for screening and placing dependents and ineffective DODDS management are the two factors that most adversely affect special education program costs; and (8) special education costs could be reduced if DOD improved its dependent screening and if DODDS paid more attention to administrative and instructional demands.

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