Texas Education Agency prepares plan to correct issues in special education system

Leander ISD's board of trustees approved an approximate cost of $4,657,533 for 85.5 new positions.

Leander ISD's board of trustees approved an approximate cost of $4,657,533 for 85.5 new positions.

Image description
U.S. Department of Education reports Texas Education Agency violated special education law
In a Jan. 11 report, the U.S. Department of Education found the Texas Education Agency failed to ensure all special education students in the state were given access to appropriate services. Now, the TEA, under the orders of Gov. Greg Abbott, is working on a corrective action plan to address the issue.

According to the federal report, the TEA failed to identify, locate and evaluate children with disabilities and to monitor school districts to ensure they met requirements laid out in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The heart of the violation can be tied to an 8.5 percent indicator set in 2004 as a general target for the number of students a school district should have received special education services. Although TEA officials said the number was not an enforced requirement, the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs found it caused some school districts to take actions intended to decrease the percentage to 8.5 percent or lower. The indicator was eliminated in 2016.

The TEA produced the first draft of its corrective action plan Jan. 18, at which point it began compiling public comments on the plan. After the public comment period, which ends Feb. 20, the TEA will aim to provide a revised plan by March 1.

Educators, parents and members of the community can provide anonymous feedback regarding the TEA’s draft plan through an online survey, which will close at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Those who have additional feedback can email [email protected].

Initial plans include: providing resources to parents of students suspected of having a disability; implementing a special education professional development system statewide; and strengthening resources allocated to special education to increase on-site support.

“I share Gov. Abbott’s urgency to quickly address the issues identified in this federal monitoring report,” TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement. “More importantly, I share the Governor’s commitment to doing what’s right for special education students in our public schools.”

The number of Texas students receiving special education services declined from 11.6 percent in 2004 to 8.6 percent in 2016, according to USDE. Although the state’s student population increased by more than 1 million from the 2003-04 school year to the 2016-17 school year, the special education population decreased by 32,000 students.

In Cy-Fair ISD, 9,098 of the 115,525 students enrolled in 2016-17 were identified as special education students—about 7.9 percent of enrollment.

In 2004, about 9.1 percent of students received services. The total number of students receiving services has increased steadily over that time.

Linda Macias, CFISD’s associate superintendent of curriculum, instruction and accountability, said the district has never taken the 8.5 percent indicator into account when determining whether a student should receive special services.

“We have always functioned in doing what’s best for our kids, so we have never looked at the caps,” she said. “If the child needs the support, we’re going to provide it for them.”

CFISD provides a range of support services for students with disabilities, including in-class support, speech and language support, adaptive behavior, occupational and physical therapy, transportation and assistive technology.

Macias said although the TEA could begin more closely monitoring evaluation processes statewide, she does not believe CFISD will have to significantly change its processes.

“It’s possible they might ask us to report things a little differently, but I don’t anticipate any major changes,” she said.
By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.



MOST RECENT

A new brewery will soon be opening on Cypress Rosehill Road at the former location of The Shack Burger Resort. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Misfit Outpost by Fortress BeerWorks coming soon to The Shack in Cypress

The owners of Fortress BeerWorks and Misfit BeerWorks are partnering on a new craft beer venture. The 5-acre site will be family-friendly, dog-friendly and host live music on the weekends.

As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'The vaccines we have are effective against all the variants out there': Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass discusses variants, vaccinations

As Houston Methodist identified its first case of the lambda variant July 19, Dr. Glass believes vaccines can handle known variants.

Houston Yoga and Ayurveda specializes in natural yoga practices. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston Yoga and Ayurveda to celebrate 10-year anniversary in Cypress

The company began in March 2011 and specializes in ayurveda, the oldest known medical practice in the world, according to owner Sharon Kapp.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is pleading with residents to be more vigilant, asking all residents to start wearing masks again in indoor settings and asking those who are vaccinated to urge their friends who are not to get the shot. (Screenshot Courtesy Facebook)
Harris County raises coronavirus threat level as Hidalgo asks all residents to mask up indoors

Although those who are vaccinated are very unlikely to end up in the hospital, officials said wearing masks in certain situations could help reduce transmissions to the more susceptible unvaccinated.

Harris County Emergency Services District 11 commissioners received updates on the status of its upcoming ambulances services at a July 22 board meeting. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 commissioners discuss upcoming ambulance service

The district will take over providing emergency medical services across more than 177 square miles of north Harris County, currently being provided by Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, on Sept. 1.

School starts Aug. 23 in Cy-Fair ISD. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Here is when students in Cy-Fair ISD return for the 2021-22 school year

The start of the school year is just around the corner.

Jersey Village City Council proposed a budget that includes increases for the fire and police department. (Courtesy city of Jersey Village)
Jersey Village proposes allocating more funding for fire, police salaries in fiscal year 2021-22 budget

About $5.5 million is designated for city fire and police department compensation in the proposed 2021-22 budget.

Memorial Hermann has locations throughout the Greater Houston area, including Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. (Courtesy Memorial Hermann)
Memorial Hermann visiting policies change as COVID-19 cases rise

As of July 21, Memorial Hermann has changed its visitor policy in light of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Greater Houston area.

Houston unemployment is above state and national levels, while home sales in the region continue to be strong, according to a July 21 economic update from the Greater Houston Partnership. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unemployment, strong housing sales mark 2021 Houston economy, Greater Houston Partnership says

While Houston job recovery lags due to the pandemic, area home sales are strong, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Munzer Kabbara graduated from Cypress Woods High School this year and will be swimming for the Lebanon Olympic team. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Look for these 5 Cy-Fair ISD alumni in the 2020 Summer Olympics

Former Cy-Fair ISD athletes will be going for the gold represeting the United States, Lebanon and Nigeria.

In a late-night amendment addition, Harris County Commissioners Court denied an original resolution aiming to increase restrictions on nonmonetary pretrial release bonds in a split vote after hearing over two hours of public testimony July 20 for and against the resolution. The amended resolution, which was approved in a second split vote, favors focusing on criminal court backlogs and funding alternative public safety solutions. (Courtesy Pexels)
After hours of debate, Harris County commissioners oppose resolution restricting felony nonmonetary pretrial release bonds

In a late-night amendment addition, Harris County Commissioners Court denied an original resolution aiming to increase restrictions on non-monetary pretrial release bonds in a split vote after hearing over two hours of public testimony July 20 for and against the resolution.