Budget Breakdown: DSPS

Oscar Gutierrez

Editor’s note: This is part one in a series entitled “Budget Breakdown.” Each article will profile a different part of campus, and how it is being affected by the California budget crisis.

City College’s Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) had 32 percent of its state funding cut this year, resulting in a reduction to core services, such as disability testing and tutoring hours.

The cutbacks caused the school district to provide anywhere between $100,000 to $250,000 in “back fill” money to accommodate the mandates of the Americans with Disability Act. The mandates require the college to respond to students’ requests for reasonable accommodations in a timely manner, meaning that DSPS programs help protect the college and the students from possible lawsuits.

“We’re looking at our policies and procedures to make sure we’re being very efficient in the way we schedule the hourlies,” said Janet Shapiro, director of DSPS.

DSPS cut back all its hourly positions by $25,000 this year. This has reduced the tutors in the DSPS lab down to four tutors for about 1,545 students, out of the 2,552 DSPS students who use the services regularly. However, the lab is still providing auxiliary aids and strategy tutoring for students with disabilities.

Another reduction has been the loss of learning disability assessment testing during the summer, which determines what disabilities a student might have. One test costs a few thousand dollars, and is not federally mandated.

Now only 100 students receive this learning disability testing for both spring and fall semesters combined, compared to the original 150.

“I was fortunate to get tested,” said Atty Garfinkel, the Associated Student Senate’s vice president of senate affairs, and a current DSPS student.

Garfinkel plans to present a DSPS resolution to the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC) at the next state general assembly in November. She is working to have DSPS funded by the federal government.

“There are too many laws saying that you have to have (funding from the state) and it’s just not getting done,” Garfinkel said.

One organization that’s helping the cause is the California Association for Postsecondary Education and Disability (CAPED). According to their website, one of its goals is to empower more than 80,000 students with disabilities in over 125 colleges and universities to realize the potential for learning, independence, employment, and integration.

On Oct. 18 through 21, the association will be holding a statewide conference that will help attending DSPS representatives come up with ideas for gathering more funding.

Both Shapiro and Garfinkel agree that next year will be more challenging for the programs because there will not be any federal “back fill.”

They believe students should take this situation as a call for action.

“We need people to get involved,” Garfinkel said. “Student apathy is killing us.”