Austin ISD has met milestones in its agreement with the Texas Education Agency in regards to a backlog of special education evaluations, district officials said in an email sent to families on Nov. 16.

The gist

All initial evaluations from the 2021-22 school year and older have been completed, according to the email. As of Oct. 31 the district has completed over 98% of initial evaluations and eligibility determinations for students from the 2022-23 school year.

The background

On Sept. 26, AISD accepted a proposal from the TEA for a state-appointed monitor over the district’s special education department, due to the findings of an investigation of the district’s special education evaluations.

The agency found as of March 20, the district had more than 1,800 special education evaluations overdue, meaning 1,800 students were awaiting potential access to accommodations at school. Additionally, the TEA reported 40 instances of “systemic noncompliance” in which AISD did not meet special education needs in a timely manner, as previously reported by Community Impact.

Overall, the agreement between the district and the TEA requires AISD to:

  • Allow a monitor appointed by the TEA to sit in on board meetings and report on the district’s progress

  • Require the board and superintendent to attend Lone Star Governance training, which includes the hiring of a Lone Star Governance coach

  • Dedicate 50% of future board meeting time to discussing student outcomes and update special education policies and procedures, not including executive sessions, calculated on rolling three-month time periods

  • Complete all outstanding evaluations and meet other deadlines and requirements established by the TEA with a 10-day grace period allowing AISD to address concerns from the TEA

What else?

Aside from meeting evaluation deadlines, the district has outlined goals to improve the special education department including:

  • Increasing professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators

  • Improving data management and reporting systems

  • Engaging families

AISD is looking to form a Special Education Family Advisory Committee and are accepting applications for members through Jan. 10. Members will be announced Feb. 15 and the first meeting of the committee will be held on Feb. 21.

The board of trustees will receive an update on the district’s progress on special education during a regular board meeting Jan. 25.

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