Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Debate Grows Over Shuttering Costly School For Blind Students
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 22, 2006

DES MOINES, IOWA--The state of Iowa spends $4 million each school year to house 34 blind students at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, while about $1 million goes toward providing services to 525 other blind students across the state.

Some state officials are talking about closing the facility and either establishing group homes for the students; creating regional centers to support the students and their families in their hometowns; developing an academic program at the University of Northern Iowa for middle and high school students; or transferring the students to join 130 students with hearing-related disabilities housed at the Iowa School for the Deaf.

However, according to the Des Moines Register, the Legal Center for Special Education is warning that closing the school would violate the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

"The law mandating a full continuum of placement options, including specialized residential schools, has been the established law of the land for more than three decades," the center's legal director Curt Sytsma wrote in the memo.

Since the IDEA became law, the enrollment of students in segregated, specialized settings has plummeted, as states have moved toward more inclusive education models. The number of students in the Iowa school has dropped by 50 percent in the past two decades.

While some lawmakers are saying that it is not financially responsible to spend so much money on the small number at the aging facility -- which was built in 1862 -- Ellyn Ross, president of the state's Division on Visual Impairments, said that no other states have closed all of their residential schools for blind students.

"Law may require that the school for blind stay open" (Des Moines Register)


©2018 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.