HB 21 Passed in the 2017 Texas Legislature Special Session

Grant programs for students with Autism, and another for students with Dyslexia were approved. $20 million is budgeted to fund ten public or charter schools for each program for two years beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The programs are for children three through eight years of age. Parents must give consent for their child being in the program.

The programs must incorporate: evidence-based and research-based design; the use of empirical data on student achievement and improvement; parental support and collaboration; the use of technology; meaningful inclusion; the ability to replicate the program for students statewide.

Programs may alter the length of the school day or school year or the number of minutes of instruction received by students; coordinate services with private or community-based providers; allow the enrollment of students without disabilities or with other disabilities, if approved by the commissioner; and adopt staff qualifications and staff to student ratios that differ from the applicable requirements.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will establish rules for all parts of the program. They must create an external panel of stakeholders, including parents of students with disabilities, to provide assistance in the selection of applications for the award of grants.

“Not later than December 31, 2020, the commissioner shall publish a report that includes: recommendations for statutory or funding changes necessary to implement successful innovations in the education of students with autism, and dyslexia; and (2) data on the academic and functional achievements of students enrolled in these programs.”

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