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TxSER Calls for Urgent Legislative Action Necessary to Address Texas Special Education


For Immediate Release
November 26, 2018

Texans for Special Education Reform

Cheryl Fries

Christine Broughal

AUSTIN: Texans for Special Education Reform is calling for an urgent Sunset Commission on special education and an urgent legislative audit of special education finance, spending, and student privacy protections in Texas.

As parents, teachers, advocates, and allies of Texas students with disabilities, we believe that full and transparent accountability for the management of both special education dollars and policies is long overdue. Every week that passes is a week lost in the education of thousands of Texas children who are systematically denied their civil rights by a system we believe has been broken deliberately. Despite a series of well-publicized failures in policy and accountability, there appear to be no brakes on a runaway train of waste, corruption, and bad practices that damage Texas students, educators, schools, and districts every day. 

Protection of student privacy is also an urgent matter in need of attention by the Texas legislature, especially given the State Auditor Office findings that TEA recklessly failed to ensure the security of student and family FERPA- and HIPAA-protected data privacy in recent vendor contracts. We cannot afford to wait for a devastating privacy breech to protect our children.

 TxSER is calling on the Texas legislature to, at a minimum, attend to –

  • A comprehensive, honest, and transparent study of Texas compliance and failures concerning Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), including the number of children who have experienced gaps in, decreases to, or no availability of services, the impacts of funding on providers, and the cost to the state of budgets and policies that deny essential therapies and related services designed and funded to prepare Texas babies and toddlers with disabilities for school readiness.

  • The continuing denial of the Texas Education Agency and others regarding the intent of its illegal cap on the civil rights of children with disabilities to attend public schools with the necessary services and supports as defined by the United States Congress and upheld in numerous decisions by the United States Supreme Court, and the potential impact of this denial on future policy and budgets. 

  • An investigation of the average special education enrollment in each LEA since the U.S. Department of Education’s corrective action order, and how or if the TEA Corrective Action Plan is resulting in the proper evaluation and placement of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment with all appropriate supports and services.

  • The continuing use of weighted formulas that underfund the educational civil rights of Texas children with disabilities by dis-incentivizing best practices, discouraging the provision of appropriate instructional and related services, and serving as an inducement for segregation.

  • The continuing collusion and over-reliant relationship between TEA, LEAs, and certain attorneys who directly profit from containment of the costs of special education and have an outsized role in policy making and educator training without regard to the impact on Texas children and families.

  • The continuing and consistent failure of TEA to authentically engage disability advocates and stakeholders and to meaningfully incorporate their input in formulation of policies and practices that directly impact students with disabilities, as exemplified on numerous occasions, including the failure to allow dyslexia stakeholders review of the final revisions to the dyslexia handbook, its failure to seriously consider ESSA input, and its failure to include advocates in ongoing monitoring of the Corrective Action Plan, special education hiring, and contracts and grants using IDEA funds. 

  • The top loading of TEA’s management with executives who have little-to-no special education, public education management, or even classroom experience, but significant ties to private foundations and organizations affiliated with a public school privatization agenda that leaves students with disabilities behind.

  •  An in-depth and transparent investigation of the failure of public charter schools to include and comply with the rights of Texas students with disabilities, despite their receipt of public funds, and the impact this has on public school districts.

  • The failure of the Texas Education Agency to hold to any consequence or accountability the executives responsible for actions taken and the lies told in its public information and internal audit of corrupt and faulty contract procurement that wasted millions of dollars of IDEA funds and jeopardized the privacy rights of students and the privacy obligations of districts.

The great State of Texas can play an inspirational and leading role in disability rights. Texans, including a Texas businessman and a Texas President of the United States, led and signed the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A Texas Congresswoman and a Texas Governor have set examples of the reach that people with disabilities can achieve. Yet for far too long, this state has engaged in a culture of denial of the rights and needs of its children who have disabilities. We can do better. And we must. 

For these reasons, Texans for Special Education Reform calls for an urgent Sunset review of Texas special education and legislative audits of special education finance, spending, and student privacy protections.

An average 6,600 students with disabilities are constituents in each Texas House district, and an average of 32,000 in each Texas Senate district. Every one of these students and their families deserves the attention of their elected representatives. We must do better for them. Texans for Special Education Reform looks forward to helping every legislator do so.


Audit Side-by-Side Comparison

Advocacy Input to ESSA

Texas may have again illegally reduced special education funding:

Texas needs to find up to $3.3 billion to bring special education services up to national standards:

Texas Saved Billions Cutting Special Education. Now the Bill Comes Due:


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We envision a state in which all individuals with disabilities are identified, and receive an education that maximizes their future potential for post-secondary education, employment, community participation, and independent living.

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