Governor Carney Signs House Bill 86

Legislation increases funding for students K – 3 eligible for basic special education services

WILMINGTON, Del. –Governor John Carney signed House Bill 86 on Friday alongside members of the General Assembly, educators and advocates. This legislation provides increased funding for students kindergarten through third grade identified as eligible for basic special education services. 

“Our goal is to ensure that every child who walks through the door of a school in Delaware has the resources they need to succeed,” said Governor Carney. “This legislation will help us get there by providing important services early in a student’s academic career. Thank you to Representative Williams, Senator Poore, and to all the members of the General Assembly, as well as our educators and administrators and the advocates for your dedication to Delaware’s children and for your work on this legislation.”

“We know that early identification and intervention are critical to a child’s overall success in school and life,” said Representative Kim Williams. “No effort to improve the quality of public education in our state can be considered complete without a commitment to serve these students from their earliest school years. My colleagues and I have worked to advance this legislation for nearly six years, and though it is long overdue I am thrilled that it is now coming to fruition.”

“With Governor Carney’s signature on House Bill 86, Delaware is finally closing a gap in how we fund special education in the earliest grades, where an investment in the right supports can dramatically improve the lives of children,” said Senator Nicole Poore. “None of this would have been possible without the dedication and diligence of educators, parents and advocates who stood with Rep. Kim Williams and I over the last six years to get this legislation passed. I am eternally grateful for all the work they put in on behalf of the countless Delaware children who will now get the support they need to be successful.”

This legislation will increase the unit count funding for K-3 Basic Special Education students by School Year 2023-2024, Fiscal Year 2024, to be consistent with the unit of pupils currently available to students in grades 4 through 12.

“This is an extremely important investment in young students,” said Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education Susan Bunting. “The K-3 special education funding will provide students with the early extra supports that will help them develop strong foundational skills.  For many, this early assistance will translate into their needing fewer services later in their academic years.”

“Until today, Delaware did not provide additional funding for children who qualify for basic special education services in Kindergarten through third grade” said DSEA President Stephanie Ingram. “As educators, we know that early intervention works and that is why we have always supported HB 86. This bill fixes the system by closing the funding gap and gives these children the help they need when it matters the most.”

Rewatch the bill signing ceremony here.


Gov. Carney: Delawareans for Educational Opportunity, DE NAACP Agreement Makes Significant Investment in DE Schools

Settlement agreement in Chancery Court case would make Opportunity Funding permanent and expand funding for high-needs schools

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Monday announced an agreement with Delawareans for Educational Opportunity and the Delaware NAACP to make significant new investments in Delaware public schools and dedicate additional funding for Delaware’s most disadvantaged students to help close achievement gaps.

The settlement agreement announced on Monday suspends litigation currently pending in Delaware’s Court of Chancery and creates a path forward to provide substantial additional support for Delaware schools, high-needs students and educators.

The agreement announced on Monday will:

  • More than double funding for Opportunity Funding to $60 million annually by Fiscal Year 2025, and make the weighted funding program permanent. Funding will increase automatically with enrollment beyond 2025.
  • Double funding for the Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) to expand access to affordable early education.
  • Provide full funding for K-3 basic special education, consistent with grades 4-12.
  • Provide additional funding for teacher recruitment and retention in high-needs schools.

Opportunity Funding provides targeted funding – for the first time in Delaware’s history – for low-income students and English learners statewide. Members of the Delaware General Assembly must approve terms the agreement as part of the regular budget and legislative process.

“It’s important to make clear that both parties viewed this case and these settlement negotiations as an opportunity to make real progress for Delaware’s children,” said Governor Carney. “This is a path forward to support our most disadvantaged students and families – and one that will help close the persistent achievement gap in our schools.

“But our work is just getting started,” said Governor Carney. “The General Assembly will need to consider these changes as part of its regular budget process in Dover. I look forward to discussions with legislators. Delaware’s General Assembly has supported increased investments in public education over the last four years and I believe legislators of both parties will see the merit in this proposal.”

“Every student – regardless of zip code or background – deserves a high-quality public education. And yet, Delaware’s current education funding formula fails to account for the simple fact that in order to succeed, children with the greatest needs require the most support,” said Senator Elizabeth Lockman. “That is the reform we are all working towards and the settlement announced today marks a potential step forward in our efforts to create a funding formula that is truly equitable for all students. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to fully discuss the details of the proposal with my colleagues, parents, educators and taxpayers in the weeks ahead.”

“As a mother of two children who were identified very early as developmentally delayed, I know firsthand how important it is to have teachers in place to provide quality services,” said Representative Kim Williams, a longtime advocate for K-3 special education funding. “Research has proven that early identification and intervention are critical to a child’s overall success. By the time a child reaches third grade, they should be transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. If we are committed to fundamentally improving the quality of education in our state, then we must make a commitment early on.”

“In 2015, while serving as Chair of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, WEAC received input from thousands of Delawareans up and down the state – parents, lawmakers, educators, community partners, politicians alike,” said Dr. Tony Allen, President of Delaware State University. “That input continued when WEAC morphed into the Commission. At that time, not one person said that the last 60 years of K12 education for students from economically distressed communities was sustainable,  appropriate, or fair. The settlement reached today proves the point and represents a principled commitment to what I believe is a fundamental American right — every child’s access to a quality education.  In the spirit of the indomitable Louis L. Redding, Chancellor Collins Seitz, and many more, may we forever be compelled to a higher purpose and greater sense of responsibility for our fellow citizens – particularly the most vulnerable among us.”

“This agreement will continue our work to support the Delaware students and educators who need our help the most,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “Through our Opportunity Funding program, low-income students and young English learners already are receiving additional support, and that work will expand statewide. We will provide new services for young students with special needs, and early childhood education. Our team at the Department of Education looks forward to working with educators to make a real difference for Delaware children with these additional resources.”

“For years, our members have been advocating for the resources needed to meet the needs their of English Learners, low-income, and k-3 basic special education students,” said Stephanie Ingram, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “This sustainable funding will do just that and continue to supply educators with the resources they need. We are hopeful that the General Assembly will make this a permanent part of our funding, and address the structural short comings in education funding in Delaware.”

“On behalf of the Delaware Hispanic Commission and the many English Learners and their families, we want to thank Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting for their leadership in bringing the much-needed permanent funding for children who are at risk in Delaware,” said Javier Torrijos, chair of the Delaware Hispanic Commission. “Children of poverty and English learners need the resources to keep pace with their peers. School districts will be able to look at long-term programs and provide the resources to meet these students’ needs.  We are extremely grateful and after many years of advocacy we see this as a major victory for all Delawareans and more importantly the future of our children and this great state.”


Delaware receives highest federal rating for special education services

Delaware earned the highest rating possible from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in its evaluation of the state’s special education services. The top marks come just three years after Delaware had received a “needs intervention” rating, the second-lowest.

“I am proud of the progress our state has made.  Led by our school districts and charter schools, their collective efforts are reflected in this rating,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. “Although more work remains, this is confirmation that we are continuing to move in the right direction.”

For the past two years Delaware received the second-highest rating, “needs assistance,” falling just shy last year of earning the top “meets requirements” rating earned this year. In each of the past three years, Delaware’s scores reflected progress: Delaware moved from an overall grade of 53 percent in 2014 to 68 percent in 2015 and to 76 percent in 2016. This year, Delaware scored 83 percent.

This year’s evaluation, based on school data from the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, takes into account the following improvements Delaware made to special education since earning the “needs intervention” rating in 2013. That rating had been based on performance data from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.

For the past three years, Delaware has:

  • Provided professional learning for special education teachers on standards-based Individual Education Plans (IEPs), positive behavior supports and accessing the general curriculum.
  • Included special education teachers in all trainings related to the state’s academic standards.
  • Assisted districts and charters schools in developing transition plans for students with disabilities who are 14 years old or entering the eighth grade to help them succeed in jobs or further education.  The state has been collecting data to ensure those plans are being prepared and carried out.
  • Clarified for districts and charters the policies requiring students with disabilities to take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and state assessments to ensure the state has full information on the progress of these students.
  • Provided districts and charter schools with comprehensive data on their performance to help local leaders better understand how well they are complying with state and federal law and how their students with disabilities are performing academically.
  • Provided targeted state technical assistance to those districts and charter schools found to be in need of assistance and intervention.

In addition, the Delaware Department of Education has completed year three of Delaware’s IDEA State Systemic Improvement Plan focusing on improving literacy in grades K-3 for all students including students with disabilities and English learners.  To implement this plan, the Delaware Early Literacy Initiative was established to support districts and charters in providing a robust multi-tiered system of academic supports for literacy.  Cohort I began in Fall 2017 and included Thomas Edison Charter School and Cape Henlopen’s Milton and HO Brittingham elementary schools.  During the 2017 – 2018 school year, the Department of Education will continue working with Cohort I schools as well as partnering with new schools for Cohort II. 

Woodbridge School District is among those districts and charters that made strong progress this year.

Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov points to regular data review meetings in which a team of staff members look at a variety of indicators reflective of children’s academic, social and behavioral needs. Team members talk about what is going well and what changes need to be made – tomorrow.

“It’s real-time conversations,” he said.

Media Contact: Alison May,, (302) 735-4099

Education Due Process Layperson Panelist Members Sought

Due Process Layperon Panelist Members Sought:
The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) is currently searching for volunteers to fill the positon of Layperson Panelist. Under IDEA and Delaware Law, there is an administrative hearing process to resolve disputes related to educational matters. The ideal candidate for this volunteer position will have a demonstrated interested in the education of children with disabilities. Training is provided and, if called to serve on a panel, compensation will be given. Please visit our website and click on the link at the bottom of the page to access the application.

Delaware Department of Justice Statement on U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision to Review Services for Children With Disabilities

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case from the state of Colorado involving the level of educational services that must be provided to public school students with disabilities. The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, is significant because it will be the first time in decades that the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed this issue, and different federal courts around the country have come to different conclusions on the question.

“This case may not have significant implications for Delaware public schoolchildren with disabilities,” Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said. “Delaware state law was changed in 2010, in a bill I worked on as Lieutenant Governor with Representative Quinn Johnson and Senator David Sokola, to require that Delaware public schools provide services to Delaware students with disabilities that matches the highest level of services required by federal courts interpreting this issue. However, sometimes the language that the U.S. Supreme Court uses in issuing its decisions can be as important as the decisions themselves. For that reason, the Delaware Department of Justice will be seeking to advocate – potentially with other state Attorneys General — for the U.S. Supreme Court to find that the highest level of services for children with disabilities currently recognized by federal courts is the correct level for all of the nation’s children, and for the Supreme Court to provide specific guidance to the states as to how to implement its decision in order to ensure that children with disabilities have an opportunity to fulfill their potential.”