In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
A 2016 Houston Chronicle investigation and a subsequent federal auditfound that the Texas Education Agency illegally set up an 8.5 percent benchmark, or de-facto cap, on the number of students receiving special education services. The cap was in place for more than a decade, and was well below the national average of 13 percent.
In eliminating that cap, state officials estimate that it will cost the state billions of dollars to provide special education services to an additional 189,000 students who need them.
The state legislature eliminated caps on special education services last year, and the federal government is requiring school districts to evaluate special needs students and offer compensatory services. As more students are identified, the state will have to pay for those resources. TEA officials told a group of lawmakers Thursday that it estimates the state will need an additional $682 million for special education services in fiscal year 2019, an additional $1 billion in 2020 and $1.55 billion in 2021. That's more than $3.2 billion in the next three years.