Special Education
April 24, 2012

Fact Sheet 12-15: Special Education Variances

Source: Research and Educational Services

Download Complete Fact Sheet (240k pdf)


The State Education Department is authorized to approve a variance that enables a school district, BOCES or approved private school to exceed special education class size limits, chronological age range limits, or the number of students to be assigned to a resource room or consultant teacher in programs for students with disabilities. In addition, recently enacted amendments to regulation now allow variances to the size of integrated coteaching classes serving students with disabilities. These variances may have implications for local collective bargaining agreements — variances may enable a school to reduce staffing needs, increase staff workload and/or affect the compatibility of student needs in an instructional group.

A school district, BOCES or private school would request a variance through regional special education staff of the State Education Department (SED), called Regional Associates. The request must be supported by a written educational justification. An educational agency is not required to obtain the signature of a representative of the collective bargaining agent as part of the approval process.

This document provides the following information:

I. Variances that Must be Approved by SED

II. Requirements for Variance Approval

III.Teacher Involvement in the Variance Process

  • Variances vs. Innovative Program Waivers

IV. When SED’s Approval of a Variance is Not Required

V. Variances for Integrated Co-Teaching Services

VI. NYSUT Policy on Special Education Variances

VII. Advice to Local Leaders

  • Attachment A includes the State Education Department’s procedure for requesting a variance as referenced in Sections I and II.
    School districts must submit a worksheet and narrative which provides supporting information for the variance request.
  • Attachment B includes the special class size variance by notification procedure referenced in Section IV of this Fact Sheet.
  • Attachment C includes the procedures to exceed the class size limit in an integrated co-teaching services class as referenced in Section V.


Download Complete Fact Sheet (240k pdf)

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