- A massive investigation by the Houston Chronicle found Texas created an arbitrary target for special education enrollment in 2004 of 8.5% of a school population, effectively incentivizing districts to deny services to students who need them.
- According to the investigation, Texas is the only state in the country to set such a benchmark, and it has the lowest rate of kids receiving special education services in the nation – 8.5% in 2015 compared to a national average of 13%.
- Since 2004, schools have begun serving fewer students with virtually every type of disability, and the state’s largest cities have dropped their service levels the most – Houston and Dallas school districts serve 7.4% and 6.9% of students, respectively, while New York City serves 19%, and English language learners may be the most disproportionately affected.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools to evaluate students suspected of needing special education services, including those students who appear unfocused or easily distracted in class. While some teachers could overlook certain symptoms of developmental disabilities as bad behavior, it is important for learning needs to be identified early so students get the support they need. The Houston Chronicle’s investigation estimates 250,000 more students would be getting special education services in Texas if the state provided such services at the same rate as the national average.
The Office of Civil Rights received a record high number of complaints in 2015 and it included a jump in the number of cases alleging seclusion of students with disabilities and lack of access to curriculum because of technology tools. The state of Georgia is currently being investigated for segregating students with special needs from their peers and offering inferior education services.