District 86 leadership will have to convince a number of Cook County school districts to support their intended withdrawal from the LaGrange Area Department of Special Education (LADSE) after a nearby district did not approve the withdrawal at one of its recent board meetings.
At Monday's Board of Education meeting at , Superintendent Dr. Nick Wahl said he was informed last week that Riverside-Brookfield School District 208 voted against the withdrawal of District 86 from the special education cooperative.
District 86 supplies 12.9 percent of LADSE’s overall funding.
Had the 15 LADSE districts other than District 86 unanimously supported the withdrawal, it would have gone into effect as desired on July 1, 2013. Now, the district will have to get the approval of the DuPage Regional Office of Education and, because there is no Cook County regional office, the individual approval of two-thirds of the Cook County districts that make up the majority of LADSE's membership.
“It’s going to be a little bit more time-intensive,” Wahl said of the withdrawal process, which will demand that District 86 officials present their rationale to each of the Cook County boards.
The District 208 board was the only Cook County district that cast a vote on the withdrawal, Wahl said. According to the superintendent, “a couple” of DuPage boards gave support, but once a “no” vote is cast, the approval process is halted.
Wahl said of District 208’s negative vote, “That’s no surprise. It’s the same thing that District 181 went through,” noting the successful 2011 LADSE withdrawal of one of its feeder districts. (.)
The superintendent said support for a large district's withdrawal will depend on LADSE's ability to convince remaining members that things won't change for the worse.
"It [comes] down to what LADSE can provide to them to ensure their services will stay the same and their costs won’t rise," Wahl said. "That’s really the litmus test."
Currently, all of District 86’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal funding goes straight to LADSE along with the IDEA funds of all the other member districts. Those funds are then distributed to the members via services provided.
that no District 86 special education student is currently being served by any LADSE program; the district is funding special education programs such as therapeutic day school and extended school year through its own education fund. It does, however, utilize LADSE personnel services, including occupational therapy and physical therapy.
A cooperative like LADSE can be beneficial as economies of scale, Wahl said in March, for districts who can’t otherwise offer special education programs the cooperative provides. But he said District 86 would be better off retaining its IDEA funds and putting them to use on its own.