Zais: Lawmakers need to add $36M for special education

South Carolina Superintendent Mick Zais is asking legislative leaders to add $36 million for special education to the 2012-13 budget after a federal education agency denied his request to delay a funding cut.

Zais said Friday the infusion is needed to avoid further penalties.

The cut in federal money is a punishment for the state not spending enough on students with disabilities in 2009-10. The penalty was initially set to start last October. But the U.S. Department of Education decided to delay the punishment by a year to give state officials time to plan.

Zais appealed the decision and is still seeking a hearing before Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Zais last month requested another delay pending a final decision. Federal officials denied that request in a letter dated April 5.