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Newsletter: Ensuring Access to Special Education

Recent news reports have raised concerns that a longstanding Texas Education Agency policy has kept thousands of Texas students from receiving the special education services they need. This week, I called on the agency to suspend or change that policy in order to ensure that students who need special education are indeed getting it.

More than a decade ago, the Education Agency (TEA) worried that schools were putting some students into special education unnecessarily. So the agency developed a system of tracking special education placements throughout the state. But questions have been raised about whether that tracking system gives schools incentive to keep students out of special education, even when those students need the help. So I have asked Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to immediately suspend this policy and work with the Legislature to ensure students are getting appropriate services.

The Legislature will convene again in January and meet for five months. The House will make it a priority during that session to ensure that students who need special education are getting it. But any changes that we make will take time to implement. That's why I have asked Commissioner Morath to act now. Students should not have to wait for the legislative process to run its course before they get the services they need.

You can read my full letter to Commissioner Morath here. I'm optimistic that the Commissioner will act to make sure that schools do not deny needed services to students, and I look forward to addressing this issue further in next year's legislative session. I will keep you posted on this very important matter, and I want to thank all of the parents and educators who have spoken out on behalf of Texas students.