Mandate Commission approves BIP reimbursement formula

District administrators should prepare for filing claims related to Behavioral Intervention Plans in late summer or early fall, following action late last week by the state panel that arbitrates reimbursable mandates on local government.

Ending nearly two decades of legal wrangling, the Commission on State Mandates voted unanimously to adopt a funding formula that will allow school districts to finally be paid by the state for the costs tied to the development and implementation of the special education intervention plans.

The action marks a major victory for the California School Boards Association and its Educational Legal Alliance, which spearheaded a lawsuit against the state in the early 1990s - eventually winning a settlement in 2009.

Officials have estimated that the state owes schools about $1 billion in BIP reimbursement claims dating back to 1993-94.

CSBA President Cindy Marks said in a statement that unfunded mandates have taken their toll on the state's public education," and the commission action represented a "substantial victory for public education."

Diana McDonough, an attorney with Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, a law firm that helped represent schools on the issue, said that now "every LEA that is eligible for reimbursement may claim it without filing actual costs."

The plans, called BIPs, are intervention strategies developed when any sort of extreme conduct by a special education student interferes with their education. The process requires significant and specialized staff time and includes assessments of the student, reports and training.

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