As TPR has reported this week, thousands of Texas school children are being denied the special education services they need and are legally entitled to. State lawmakers are now calling for hearings and action to fix the problem.
According to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Education Agency adopted a policy in 2004 that set a target percentage of school children receiving special education services at 8.5 percent.
At the time, 12 percent of school children were receiving some level of special education instruction. Last year Texas met that TEA target but at the cost of denying tens of thousands of students services.
Northside ISD Superintendant Brian Wood said that in education circles the 8.5 target was well known.
“I don’t support setting any number – whether it’s 8.5 or 10.5 – it doesn’t really make any difference – our attitude was it’s about servicing each individual child and family well and not about some number that somebody else sets.”
Speaking on TPR’s The Source on Tuesday State Senator Jose Menendez blasted the TEA’s policy and called for special legislative hearings.
“I was very disturbed by that and we need to look into what exactly the TEA was doing – what role they’re playing to keep the numbers down in Texas.”
Houston State Representative Gene Wu said the Education Commissioner should immediately send out a communique to Texas school districts informing them to provide special education services to all students who need them.
“The TEA needs to send out a directive telling everyone to stop this right now.”
The TEA says that no students have been denied special education services due to the 8.5 percent target – despite the fact that the national average is 12 percent.