Texas Senate votes in favor of ban on special ed cap

Dive Brief:

  • Texas state officials will be barred from ever putting a cap on the percentage of students allowed to receive special education services if the Texas House and Gov. Greg Abbott approve a bill that recently passed the state's Senate, according to the Houston Chronicle.
  • The legislation follows a 2016 investigation by the Chronicle into a decision by the Texas Education Agency in 2004 to deny services to thousands of students with disabilities, a move made without legislative or public oversight that left Texas offering far fewer special education services than any other state.
  • Abbott supports the measure, which is the first of what is likely to be several pieces of legislation signed in response to the reporting by the Chronicle.

Dive Insight:

The Houston Chronicle estimated that as many as 250,000 students over the past decade may have needed special education services to make Texas equal to the national average. The lack of oversight from any local, state or federal party undoubtedly left the problem unchecked, making it clear that constant accountability is necessary. Recently, several Massachusetts schools were required to submit regular reports to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights about accessibility of services for students with disabilities, and such rigorous oversight can keep situations as egregious as Texas’ from being sight unseen for more than a decade.

It is unclear what type of federal oversight will be commonplace during President Donald Trump’s administration. According to prior rhetoric, Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would seem hesitant to impose harsh federal regulations on local education practices. This may not be as clear-cut as expected, and the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision expanding the rights that special education students are granted by law will exert more pressure on the federal government to continue enforcing accountability, even if it clashes with DeVos’ anti-regulatory approach

Filed Under: K12 Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Flickr user Phil Roeder