Saturday, April 24, 1999

State of Hawaii

Progress reported
in special-needs
education in isles

The $200 million a year in state
spending to meet the Felix decree
is bringing results, officials say

By Craig Gima


The state and special-needs children are seeing positive results from some of the $200 million a year the state is spending to comply with the Felix consent decree, officials say.

A preliminary evaluation of programs in school districts on Kauai and in Nanakuli on Oahu show the state is on track in those districts to meet a June 30, 2000, federal court deadline, said state health Director Bruce Anderson.

The decree mandates that the state provide services for about 9,000 children statewide with educational and emotional disabilities.

"We have a long way to go," Anderson said, noting there are still many other districts that must be evaluated through a process called "service testing."

But he said the results of the evaluation are "encouraging."

Anderson said the evaluation indicates the programs in the Nanakuli district and the Waimea, Kauai High and Kapaa districts on Kauai are delivering appropriate services and children are benefiting.

Federal court monitor Ivor Groves visited schools and private providers of services in those districts this past week to oversee the service testing of the programs.

"We're pleased with the results and hope that other areas are as successful," Anderson said.

On Kauai, special-needs children are served through a program called the Mokihana Project, which is generally regarded as being ahead of the rest of the state in providing services.

The program is tailored to Kauai and may not work in Honolulu, but Health Department special assistant Anita Swanson said things can be learned from Kauai's success that can help other districts comply with the consent decree.

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