Special Ed Funding Falls Victim to Charter Reform Plan

Changes to the way Pennsylvania funds special education nearly became law last summer, but the legislation died when an amendment supported by Gov. Tom Corbett to reform charter schools and cyberschools co-opted the measure.

House Bill 704 sponsored by state Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-29, and companion legislation in the Senate, SB 1115, had been gaining support. The Senate version passed 46-1 in June.

Once “it got buried with all this charter school stuff … the whole thing died,” said O’Neill, who ultimately voted against his own legislation.

“Six years of work went down the drain,” said O’Neill, who had bipartisan support, including 56 co-sponsors on his special education plan. “(Corbett) used my bill for backroom deals.”

O’Neill’s frustration stems from his background. He was a special education teacher for 25 years at William Tennent High School in the Centennial School District.

Click here to read the article by Gary Weckselblatt published on the phillyburbs.com (November 19, 2012).


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