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In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
— Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the U.S.

Harvey an additional obstacle for Texas students with disabilities


Austin American Statesman

by Julie Chang
American-Statesman Staff
Texas News & Politics



Disability rights advocates are urging families of special education students who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey to brush up on the kinds of services they are entitled to in public school.

Advocates and families of children with disabilities have expressed concerns about replacing assistive technology in storm-damaged schools; children not receiving necessary services or supports; and parents being given wrong information about the types of paperwork needed to enroll a child in a new school.

“Appropriate special education for students is a challenge on a sunny day in Texas, so it is legitimate for advocates and families to be deeply concerned about the additional stresses created by displacement,” said Cheryl Fries with Texans for Special Education Reform, a parent organization that promotes quality special education.

Fries’ organization and Disability Rights Texas will hold a 20-minute Facebook Live session on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. to provide guidance and answer questions about special education for students affected by Harvey. Parents can use Facebook to message Disability Rights Texas or Texans for Special Education Reform to send their questions in advance.

The storm has upended large swaths of the public education system along the Gulf Coast. According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, 52 schools remain closed due to catastrophic damages, 234 others have significant damage and 678 sustained some damage.

Students who go to shuttered schools are having to travel several miles further to other campuses, sometimes in neighboring school districts. Others have gone as far as Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

Parents affected by Harvey can also call the Texas Education Agency to ask questions through an exclusive hotline 512-463-9603.


Image Credit:  Special education teacher Kristen Hall, left, and teacher’s aide Britney Jones, right, instruct kindergarten students at The Foundation School for Autism in San Antonio. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

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