RSD205 and taxpayers penalized for not providing adequate surrogate parenting

State officials say the Rockford School District suspended or expelled a disproportionate number of black special-needs students, from 2007 through 2009, so the school district now has $1.1M in federal dollars restricted to early-intervention programs instead of special education programs under the Illinois Disability Education Act (IDEA).

What happens if more minority students in this “special-needs” – poor behavior category – do actually get more suspensions or expulsions because their behavior doesn’t meet the district’s discipline policy versus some arbitrary quota set by state bureaucrats?

Should the district now lower its discipline standards – which it has – so that they do not exceed the bar next time or maybe punish other students to adjust to the proper ratio – whatever that is – set by the state?

Does the district now have to say – we have meet our quota for discpline referrals this year and not discipline any more black students, regardless of their behavior until the following year to meet these arbitrary numbers set by a complex state formula?

How can the state set a limit on discipline, when behavior should determine the number of students disciplined? With the burden of proof now placed on school officials to justify racial imbalances, punishment by quotas will be the obvious response.

Quotas have become the bureaucrat’s “indisputable” proof of fairness, the rationale being that quotas mandate fair and equitable outcomes, not the behavior of the students. Quotas provide the shield to prove one is not a racist.

Hispanic and white special-needs students have about the same percentage of discipline referrals during the year with blacks 3 or 4 times that rate for the three year period in question.

This financial restriction will take the money from the district’s $66M special education budget which ran an average deficit of about $40M per year from 2007 through 2009, while the fund is projected to have an accumulated deficit of more than $325M after the 2011 budget year!

Rockford taxpayers again have to spend more tax dollars on something that should be done in the home – promoting positive behavior – then penalized, along with special education parents and students, when arbitrary state quotas applied to the district “prove” the schools are failing in their role as surrogate parents.



  1. You GO Ted! You’ve said it all! Now how do we get the school board to listen to reason? The scores are going to go down – we can’t teach with the disruptions we are dealing with because adminstrators are afraid to suspend.

  2. The gov’t has brought this upon themselves and thus into the pockets of the taxpayers. We have too many parents that don’t take responsibility for their children.

    Once again, another example of why the federal gov’t needs to get out of the K-12 business.

    Ted, I said this about two weeks ago.

    Sadly though, the gov’t has intruded its way into the lives of American families, that many parents now think it is the gov’ts responsibility to raise their kids. In some school districts, the students just don’t get a lunch, but also breakfast and dinner. Also, teachers are more worried about violating some child’s rights instead of teaching them the three R’s.

    Reduce the amount of gov’t interference in our lives and our society would be so much better.

  3. Ron Johnson

    Terry, you mention some districts offer more than lunch, that would also be Rockford 205. They have had a breakfast program for many years and also do afternoon snacks for many kids too. Now, some of the afternoon stuff is through the YMCA school age center, but either way the nutrition for the kids is not coming from a parent.

  4. Ted Biondo

    Welcome John to the blog – Thanks for the comment. We get the board to listen by enforcing the goals they set for Sheffield. If she doesn’t accept the goals, then the board should get someone else who will listen.

    Children must not only attend the class, they have to listen without disruption, do the work, participate, then go to the next project. You can lead a child to the knowledge but you can’t make them partake against their will, without disrupting all the others in the class who want to learn.

    These disruptive kids should not entitled to be ruin the lives of the others. There will be Some Child Left Behind, because they have responsibility in the process, too!

  5. Ted Biondo

    Parents today feel entitled, Terry for the government to take care of not only their children but take care of them also – of course using taxpayer’s money.

  6. Ted Biondo

    Interesting to know, Ron. The signing of the request for free and reduced lunch, also effects fees for many other items including books, sports fees, etc. There should means testing to qualify for this program and the associated fee reductions in other areas, that are paid by the other families.

    I need to know if anyone has info concerning how close the district follows the means testing, if at all. Does the district just let anyone sign up without checking – what goes on?

  7. RPS Parent

    Unfortunately, RPS allows anyone to sign up for Free and Reduced Lunch Programs at the school. There is no proof of income requirement.

    Even the Empty Stocking toy give away makes you provide proof of number of children and medical card in order to qualify.

    Some schools actually encourage parents to sign up, by stating the school will receive more federal funds/per FRL student.

  8. readingmike94

    I must remind you it is the consertive movement that brought education into the federal government with no child left behind… let me remind you it is often conservatives that argue for merit pay for teachers ok how do you have merit pay by federal govenment testing by looking at data like suspensions “oh teachers are not doing their job’ so the crlticisms you make on one hand are what you are clamoring for on the other hand
    to make the case for teacher x or y you are going to have to have walk throughs you are going to have to look at suspension data you are going to have to look at subgroup data

  9. Ted Biondo

    Welcome to the blog RPS Parent. Thanks for the input. That is what I had heard. They ask you right at the door to go into the FRL line. Some don’t, but many do.

    What are we teaching our children when we cheat to get “free” money – for ourselves – while sticking it to the rest of us. It always is always about the money, not the kids, and definitely not about the taxpayers who pay for all that “free” stuff. That policy needs to change, I’ll see what can be done.

    If anyone else has info in this area, I would appreciate the input?

  10. Ted Biondo

    readingmike94 – I agree that we have to do all the assessments that you suggest in order to see where to fix the problems, including disaggregated data by subgroup. Without the data you are shooting in the dark.

  11. expdoc
    I agree. I don’t mind a vigorous debate, but Pat eggs on the hyperbolic and spittle prone ravings of a few ultra libs. A lot of ttimes I feel like I’m in a room full of sugared up kindergarteners.
    Ted – if someone on this blog starts spewing hatred and name calling – on EITHER end of the spectrum, please block them quickly. Pat seems to enjoy and encourage the lowest common denominator. I’m looking forward to being part of this blog.

    In re: taxes – the only criteria seems to be “tax anyone who makes more than me”. Getting Dems to acknowledge that the Government’s money is really ours is impossible.

  12. Ted: I posted the above comment on the other thread – not sure why it showed up here tpp….

  13. ReadingMike,

    Conservatives did not bring the federal gov’t into K-12 education. The Feds have been in K-12 many years prior to No Child Left Behind, which was by no means a conservative bill.

    How about merit pay by state standards?

  14. I believe the number I’ve heard about verifying free/reduced lunch forms is 3%. It’s really hard to judge who should/shouldn’t receive the f/r lunch. There are so many kids who honestly do qualify, but then you’ve got the parents manipulating the system. How about we take some of Dr. Sheffield’s underworked-seriously overpaid friends from 201 S. Madison and put them to work checking? But then we’d find out that our budget is seriously in the red because the district would lose big federal bucks. We’re caught in a no-win situation.

  15. Ted Biondo

    John – you are right, the district does verify 3% but I have heard the results are 50% don’t qualify. If that’s the case, then the district should check 10% – if it’s still above say 10-15% out of compliance then check 50%. If still out of compliance the district loses their free lunch program or it’s suspended until all the FRL applicants fit the means test.

    There is NO penalty for cheating, when you are caught and it’s a lot more than just food that has reduced costs. Fees, textbooks, driver’s ed???, etc. Tax returns might be one means test to be used to verify everyone – and they shouldn’t be allowed to use privacy act to thwart the check.

    I’m looking into this further – thanks for the input – appreciate it.

  16. My question is, don’t these families have LINK cards? Isn’t it the parents responsibility to pack the child a lunch?

  17. Ted Biondo

    Terry – we were as poor as church mice, but my mom always managed to pack me a cheese sandwich or peanut butter and jelly or fried bologna, sometime ketchup on bread or whatever but no one paid for my lunch.

    I think it’s a parent’s responsibility to provide a lunch, fees for sports, books and especially driver’s ed – why am I paying for someone’s child to take driver’s ed?

    Parents should stop using the money for cigarettes, wine and themselves and spend it on the kids for whom it is intended.

  18. Ted,

    Just the other day I am at teh grocery store and the lady in front of me has about 30 small (individual size) bags of potato chips, two large bags of frozen french fries, and a tray of brownies from teh store’s bakery. Out comes the LINK Card. What goes thru some people’s minds?

  19. Ted Biondo

    From Jon Dec 26th

    @Terry No, not all of the parents on reduced-price lunch would also have a Link card. Maybe the ones who get free lunches would have the card, but you need less money to get a free lunch than a reduced-price lunch.

    For example, a single parent of one child can make up to $26,995 per year ($12.97 an hour for 40 hours of work during 52 weeks per year). That number goes up to $33,874 per year for two kids and a single parent ($16.28 an hour for 40 hours of work during 52 weeks per year) and goes up with more children and family members. These figures are based on the income of the number of people in a household divided into the total wages of the members of the household. The current values used to determine eligibility are the same as those used in 2009-10, which can be viewed in this three page pdf produced by the US Dept. of Agriculture (see page three of it for dollar figures) :

    With high unemployment levels tied to low-paying local jobs in the Rockford area, it is a wonder that the numbers of those getting a free/reduced lunch are not higher than they are in RPS205. I’m not in favor of a welfare state, but if one’s government says you are eligible for saving money, I know of few who would pass on that opportunity to do so.

  20. Ted Biondo

    From Terry Dec 26th


    Your last sentence sums it up – redundant governemt services. Feed the kids thru the LINK card or thru the public schools? I say thru the LINK card – its cheaper. Also, who feeds these kids on Saturday or Sunday?

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