An investigation by the Houston Chronicle has revealed that unelected state officials in Texas “arbitrarily decided what percentage of students should get special education services” more than a decade ago and then began auditing school districts that did not comply.
Their efforts, which started in 2004 but have never been publicly announced or explained, have saved the Texas Education Agency billions of dollars but denied vital supports to children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, epilepsy, mental illnesses, speech impediments, traumatic brain injuries, even blindness and deafness, a Houston Chronicle investigation has found.
The newspaper found that state officials set a cap of 8.5 percent of students who should receive special-education services, far lower than the national average. According to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, the overall percentage of those being served in programs for students with disabilities was 12.9 percent in 2012-13, the most recent year for which statistics are available, down 13.8 percent in 2004-05. In 2015, the 8.5 percent was reached for the first time, dropping from 12 percent a dozen years ago, the newspaper reported. It said:
If Texas provided services at the same rate as the rest of the U.S., 250,000 more kids would be getting critical services such as therapy, counseling and one-on-one tutoring.