Press Releases

For Immediate Release: March 8, 2013

Contact: Charlene Briner, 651-582-1145 or Keith Hovis, 651-582-8275,

Commissioner Cassellius Talks Special Education in Duluth

ROSEVILLE - As part of a series of school visits across Minnesota, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius hosted a roundtable on special education yesterday in Duluth. The Commissioner sat down with Duluth Superintendent Bill Gronseth and local teachers and administrators to talk about the current state of special education in Duluth.

“One of the biggest challenges school districts face is the persistent underfunding of mandated special education services, and Duluth is no exception," Commissioner Cassellius said. “That's why Governor Dayton put forth a comprehensive approach to reform and invest in special education designed to better meet student needs. The input from Duluth educators reinforces the urgency to start dealing with this issue now so we can better ensure all students reach their highest potential."

Currently, 17.3 percent of students enrolled in Duluth Public Schools receive special education services. With rising enrollment and costs, Duluth educators stressed the urgency of addressing inequities in special education this session.

The roundtable comes as the Office of the Legislative Auditor released a report affirming the need for increased funding and special education reform, two substantial components of Governor Mark Dayton’s budget. Governor Dayton’s proposal would invest $125 million in special education, providing the equivalent of an additional $180 per student per year to address some of the state’s unfunded special education costs.

More than increased funding, the governor’s plan also includes new reform measures to stem the rising cost of delivering high-quality special education support in the classroom, tailoring funding to meet the individual needs of students. One major area of needed reform is greater accountability in cost containment. Currently if a child open enrolls, the district they live in is billed for 100 percent of all special education services the student receives in another district. The governor’s plan would require both school districts to share that funding responsibility.

Governor Dayton’s budget would also reduce paperwork for special education teachers, allowing them to spend more time teaching kids with special needs and less time filling out forms. Earlier this year, the Department of Education reduced the Total Special Education Systems manual from over 270 pages to just 16. Now, the governor has proposed allocating additional funds to build on that success, creating an online reporting system that would allow special education teachers to expedite their reporting in a more efficient manner.