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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Addressing the Texas Special Education Scandal

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the educational and civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities. 

Laura Isensee reports at Houston Public Media:
Last week, federal authorities ordered Texas to end its arbitrary benchmark for special education, unless state officials can show no child has been denied services.
Some state lawmakers want to take further steps to eliminate the target, which has drastically limited the number of special ed students in public schools.
“I plan on having a piece of legislation that pretty much says that the TEA (Texas Education Agency) and the school districts are not allowed by law to have any kind of set caps or limits on special education,” said state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston. “It’s just, ‘You may not do it.’”
Federal law requires public schools to provide specialized education to all eligible students with any type of disability, and the U.S. Department of Education has put Texas officials on notice for its 12-year-old target.
But some lawmakers want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Many didn’t know children with disabilities could be denied services until a Houston Chronicle investigation. That’s how Wu found out.
“I was enraged — I almost threw something at my monitor,” he said.
The Houston Chronicle posted the letter from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services giving the Texas Education Agency 30 days to address the problem.