Pearland ISD parents voice concerns over district’s handling of special education students

Special education advocate Karen Cunningham (middle) along with Kelly Rhame (left) and Heidi Simpson spoke during a news conference on Aug. 4 about their concern regarding Pearland ISD's support for special education students. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)
Special education advocate Karen Cunningham (middle) along with Kelly Rhame (left) and Heidi Simpson spoke during a news conference on Aug. 4 about their concern regarding Pearland ISD's support for special education students. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)

Special education advocate Karen Cunningham (middle) along with Kelly Rhame (left) and Heidi Simpson spoke during a news conference on Aug. 4 about their concern regarding Pearland ISD's support for special education students. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)

A group of parents along with a special education advocate gathered Aug. 4 in front of the Pearland ISD Administration building at 1928 North Main St., Pearland, for a news conference to address what they called “egregious behaviors” on the part of the school district relating to special education for students.

Special education advocate Karen Cunningham and two PISD parents she represents spoke of concerns they had regarding the support the district provides to special education students.

“This district is not the district you want to be in if your kids need extra help with academics, behavior or language,” said Kelly Rhame, one of the parents represented by Cunningham. “This district will spend tens of thousands of dollars defending their program rather than help your child read.”

According to Cunningham, there are at least five due process hearings pending at PISD in the next several months. A due process hearing before a judge is one option parents can take if they disagree with a school district's assessment of their child's special education needs, Cunningham said

Cunningham and her clients said the district is guilty of several shortcomings, which include not providing teachers and staff with proper training to deal with special needs students; lying to parents about processes, faculty and special needs services available; and denying services to students who potentially need special education services.


In a statement to Community Impact Newspaper, the district said it is aware of the news conference organized by Cunningham and her clients, but that it could not go into any detail due to pending hearings before the Texas Education Agency.

“We are confident the facts will be revealed during the legal proceedings,” the district said in the statement. “Despite what may have been implied during the press conference, Pearland ISD and the special programs staff have been and remain committed to meeting the needs of students receiving special education services.”
By Andy Yanez

Reporter, Pearland/Friendswood

Andy joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Houston. He started off as the South Houston Metro Reporter where he helped each different edition in the South Houston market before transitioning to the Pearland/Friendswood market in August 2021. Andy covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Andy served as the sports editor of The Cougar, UH's student newspaper, where he covered the university's athletics beat for two years and got to cover the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in Indianapolis.



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