Wednesday, January 17, 2018

USDOE Finds Texas in Violation of Special Education Children's Rights

I listen to this presentation and Dr. Martin Luther King's famous quote comes to mind: “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”  So even the positive outcome of a scathing report of violations against children's rights in Texas is bittersweet.  How could they? How dare they?  All of this is so enraging and consistent with Bruce Lesley's recent, cogent statement titled, "The Undeclared War on Children."  I can only imagine how angry and disgusted our parents are.

That said, please listen to this brief presentation by Rachel Gandy & Steven Aleman from Disability Rights Texas (@DisRightsTx), on January 11, 2018, commenting on the release that day of an investigative report by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) on the 8.5% Special Education enrollment cap by the Texas Education Agency (Texas' state Department of Education).


The last piece by Robert Walker, in particular, provides a sense of the context and history of TEA's harmful policy.  

After interviewing parents, administrators, advocates, and reviewing records requested by the USDOE from TEA, they find that the TEA violated Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) as follows:

  1. They failed to assure that all children were identified, located, and assessed to determine who might need special education services;
  2. They found that TEA violated the fundamental right to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE).  FAPE ensures that every special education student receives an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan.
  3. TEA was also found in violation of the law to ensure that charter schools and public school districts follow federal IDEA law.
The agency must now provide corrective action, including monitoring of school districts, resulting in what will amount to more compliance across the state of Texas.

Next steps.  Texas Gov. Abbott issued a directive to the TEA to start working on a new plan immediately with a January 18, 2018 deadline.

I sure hope that this long overdue USDOE report restores harm though untold numbers—thousands of youth annually—and their parents, will have already been adversely harmed.

If you feel that your child has been "capped" and denied access to services,
contact your school and ask for a disability evaluation. I would specifically mention the U.S. DOE findings of fact titled, "Texas Part B 2017 Monitoring Visit Letter" and demand that your child be fully assessed or that issues in your school or district get assessed.

Hats off to Rachel Gandy and Steve Alemán with Disability Rights Texas for their tireless advocacy.  Now the remedy must be monitored to ensure that the TEA actually does what it is supposed to do.

Angela Valenzuela

 @DisRightsTx  #ChildWelfare #disabilities #specialneeds #TxLege #Texas #TxEd

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