A report from the U.S. Department of Education released on Thursday said school districts across Texas delayed or denied special education services to meet the Texas Education Agency’s 8.5 percent target for students with disabilities.
The 14-page report said the agency’s use of the 8.5 figure, which the agency uses to determine a district’s performance level, led to a decrease in the state’s special education rate from 11.6 percent in 2004 to 8.6 percent in 2016.
The report said the TEA assigns a higher performance level to districts in which the percentage of children with disabilities is 8.5 or higher. Generally, the report said, the higher the performance level is, the lower the district’s performance is.
”The Office of Special Education Programs found evidence demonstrating a pattern of practices in ISDs throughout the state in which evaluations were delayed or not conducted for children who were suspected of having a disability because these children were receiving supports for struggling learners in the general education environment,” the report said. “Due to this pattern, OSEP finds that TEA did not ensure that all ISDs in the state properly identified, located and evaluated all children with disabilities in the state who were in need of special education and related services.”
The report said that by taking steps to reduce the number of students with disabilities, staff in certain districts believed they would receive less monitoring from the TEA.
This is a developing story. Check back soon for more details.