During a meeting of the Austin ISD board of trustees Jan. 11, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education Dru McGovern-Robinett said that district officials are catching up on a backlog of special education evaluations.

A backlog of evaluations means students are awaiting potential access to accommodations needed at school.

By the numbers

The total number of past due evaluations decreased by about 83% from January to December 2023. In December, nearly 99% of evaluations were completed within the required timeframe of 45 school days, while in January only 52% met this deadline, district officials said.

AISD officials announced that over 2,300 special education evaluations were processed in the fall semester of 2023, exceeding the district’s target by 43%. This is 153% more than total evaluations that were completed in fall of 2022. The spring 2024 semester’s target is 2,055, according to district documents.

The background

On Sept. 25, the board of trustees accepted a proposal from the Texas Education Agency for a state-appointed monitor over special education.

The TEA notified AISD in March that it would seek to implement a conservatorship due to the findings of an investigation of the district’s special education evaluations.

The agency found that as of March 20, the district had more than 1,800 special education evaluations overdue. 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.

A monitor, which is a step down from a conservatorship, was appointed by the TEA and sits in on board meetings and reports on the district’s progress. District officials also agreed to complete all evaluations within the timeline by December 2025, which they say could be met sooner.

If AISD is unable to fulfill any of the terms in the agreement, the TEA may appoint a conservator instead, as previously reported by Community Impact.

What else?

Other progress the district has made toward the improvement of special education includes the creation of a new Parent Advisory Committee, which will consist of parents of special education students. The first meeting of the committee will take place in February.

The district has also increased pay for evaluators, which has helped make progress to fill over 50 vacancies.

For more information, visit www.austinisd.org.