The federal government has come to the horrific conclusion that Texas education officials have violated federal law by excluding more than 100,000 students with disabilities from programs specifically designed to help them.
The Department of Education has finished a 15-month-long investigation into Texas schools' acceptance of students with disabilities after the initiative was prompted by a massive report from the Houston Chronicle.
The report had quoted multiple teachers stating that the target had forced them to withhold services from students with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, mental illnesses, speech impairments, and even students with blindness or deafness.
The despicable results of the investigation have found that Texas education officials have been setting a "target" for how many students were allowed to have access to special education services, according to the The New York Times. This directly contradicts federal law, which states that schools are required to serve all students with disabilities.
This target number, set at 8.5 percent of enrollment, was designated in 2004 and eliminated last year. While it was enacted, however, school districts would face penalization for going above the target number. This 8.5 percent target number completely ignored the fact that the national average for special education was around 12 percent.
Following the investigation, regulators from the Department of Education wrote a letter to the Texas Education Agency ordering them to create a plan to assist them in identifying students who have been illegally kept out of special education services and formulate corrective actions.
To deny children from accessing the services that are quite literally designed to help them succeed is truly deplorable. There's no other way to put it.
Furthermore, Texas officials had been denying the claims for months, meaning they knowingly were keeping children who needed special education from accessing it even though they knew it was against the law. And, while the officials have since responded to the federal review by vowing to take appropriate measures, it does not take away from the fact that they tried to get away with preventing students with disabilities from getting the services they need.
This draws an end to what is one of the most extensive reviews in recent history, which included interviews, school district visits, and holding public forums. The letter demanding corrective action was the first major state-monitoring decision approved by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has faced criticism for her handling of special education regulations.
"Every child with a disability must have appropriate access to special education and related services that meet his or her unique needs," Ms. DeVos said. "Far too many students in Texas had been precluded from receiving supports and services."
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