Special Education

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Children's icon, a cluster of simplified figures, one smaller than the other two.

Our Position

Texas' public education system could be facing some radical changes in 2021. The Texas Legislature must NOT leave students with disabilities behind by neglecting to support special education programs. This means making sure that public schools have the resources they need to address the gaps in service provision due to COVID-19, ensuring students with disabilities at every level are identified and have access to the appropriate supports and related services, and that funding intended for public schools is not diverted to private schools.

The Latest

August 30, 2020: CTD's Jolene Sanders-Foster emphasized that respite services for low-income families who need help caring for children with complex medical needs are among the programs on the chopping block in 2021 budget cuts: San Antonio Express-News' Legislature sidelined as three Texas GOP leaders steer $1B in budget cuts

August 28, 2020: The Texas Tribune reports on challenges for students who use special education services and their families as schools reopen this fall: Special education students lost crucial help when the pandemic hit. Texas schools are still struggling to restore it.

May 20, 2020: CTD joins Texas Coalition for Healthy Minds (TCHM)'s call to TEA to leverage existing resources, develop new ones to help school districts respond to the unprecedented social, emotional, and mental health barriers to learning that students across the state are experiencing

April 24, 2020: CTD signs on to Disability Rights Texas' letter to the Governer and TEA Commissioner, urging them to prioritize aid that Texas will receive under the CARES Act to ensure that infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities receive the services to which they are legally entitled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

April 8, 2020: CTD joins 44 other groups in calling for the Governor to support ECI Services through the pandemic

Partners

Background

Texas has a long history of denying special education services to kids with disabilities, or shortchanging eligible students. Over the years, CTD and other advocates have led efforts to remove the illegal 8.5% enrollment cap, expose the misuse of funding by the Texas Education Agency that compromised confidential student information, protect early intervention programs, and push back on attempts to exploit students with disabilities to open the door to vouchers. As schools continue to make gains in these areas, we must also turn our attention to challenges that have been further complicated by the pandemic. 

During the 87th Texas legislative session, CTD will support policies that provide school districts with guidance and the necessary resources to address the current barriers to access and inequities across the state.

COVID-19: When the pandemic hit and schools were forced to shutter their doors, many students with disabilities lost services, or saw those services put on hold as districts pivoted to virtual learning. For some students, access to technology and learning on a virtual platform were significant barriers. State agencies have already acknowledged the anticipated need for compensatory services for many students. CTD will advocate to ensure that students are not denied compensatory services to address gaps in service provision due to COVID-19. We urge the legislature to direct TEA to use federal CARES Act funding for its intended purpose.

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE): ECSE is a program that provides special education services for students 3-5 years old who are either transitioning out of ECI, or are identified after the eligibility period for ECI. Unfortunately, transitioning from ECI to ECSE is not always smooth or well understood and children frequently fall through the cracks. In 2021, CTD will advocate to ensure compliance with federal child find requirements so students do not miss out on critical services. 

Vouchers: CTD opposes the adoption of any voucher program or voucher-in-disguise initiative, and calls on Legislators to ensure that children with disabilities are adequately served in public and charter schools. CTD opposes any attempts to use the current pandemic as a vehicle to open the door to vouchers. Rather, the legislature must fix the systemic flaws in the special education system and sustain our public schools.


Resources

@TXDisabilities