Federal education officials have revealed their findings from a 2018 study into the state's education services for special needs students.
The study says Texas has failed to provide the necessary resources to students who have disabilities, illegally denying thousands of the tools and services they need to succeed.
Although KISD was not included in the original TEA investigation, one KISD parent tells 25 News there is a lack of special education resources here too.
No matter what type of disability a student may have, support in the classroom is essential to their success. That’s according to Professor Amanda Allen who specializes in Special Needs education at A&M Central Texas.
“It just hurts because there are kids out there who really need that even if it’s just that little bit of support," she said.
She’s spent more than half of her life dedicated to training aspiring special education teachers. The thought of students with disabilities not getting the resources they need to thrive breaks Dr. Allen’s heart.
“If they don’t get it, they’re going to fall behind, and that’s what we’re all about in Special Ed. Is making sure that you get to that next step. That’s what’s so painful about it. I can only imagine being a parent who is looking at their child and knowing that my child can’t receive that service because there’s not somebody out there who is not fighting for my child,” said Dr. Allen.
“Has there ever been a time where you felt secure in the resources that were available to your child?”
“Never. Every year I am newly frustrated and I wish I was surprised,” said one parent.
One KISD parent who has children with special needs, but wanted to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation from the school district, says they lost their faith in the school’s ability to give their child the support they need a long time ago.
“There were serious incidents every year. I feel like every year, even though his IEP has got protections in it in writing, they find new ways to not provide them. So, many parents pull their kids out and go to homeschooling because at a certain point it’s easier to do it yourself then it is to fight the district,” they said.
But not everyone has the option to home school. So, the parent says they are stuck in a revolving door of uncertainty. They say they are appreciative for the ones who do care, but there are others who could care less.
“There are some absolutely wonderful educators and even on the administration level that are doing their best, but they are people that are only concerned about dollars and cents and they tie their hands behind their back," the parent said.
We reached out to the TEA for comment who says,
Since OSEP issued its letter of findings in 2018, TEA has been diligently implementing our strategic plan for special education and the activities from our Corrective Action Response to improve special education services in Texas. We have been working very closely with OSEP on this effort throughout and appreciate their support of our comprehensive efforts. The Oct. 19 letter from OSEP represents a culmination of our collaboration with OSEP to demonstrate how our agency has effectively implemented the activities of our Corrective Action Response. When it comes to special education services for Texas students, TEA is continuously working with local education agencies to close the gap between unidentified need and ensuring our students have all the supports they require. Since OSEP first identified areas where the State of Texas needed to improve its SPED offerings, we addressed every point of our Corrective Action Response, and went significantly beyond what was required by OSEP. Our agency is responding to OSEP’s most recent request. We’re confident in the progress we’ve made on behalf of our state’s students served by special education.“
The federal letter is in response to one TEA sent on Oct. 5 asking for feedback from the monitoring visit the previous year. You can read that letter below:
In response to these allegations of lack of resources in their district, KISD said:
Any parent who has a concern with their child’s education should reach out to the campus principal or special education facilitator. KISD strives to provide students with all services required for their educational success.
Dr. Allen says if you do have a child with special needs, knowledge is power. She recommends doing your research and know your child rights as a special need student like the back of your hand so you can be an informed advocate for your child.