TEA’s Special Education Data Sharing Request

On Monday, June 19, 2017, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) sent the following letter to school administrators titled “Special Education Data Sharing Request – Eligibility for Reimbursement“. Many parents might wonder if sharing IEPs with the state is a violation of confidentiality. FERPA rules allow state education agency staff to view records for several purposes, including research. We believe the U.S. Department of Education is most likely aware that this will be part of TEA’s response to their report of the investigation of special education services in Texas.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is committed to supporting districts, schools, and teachers as we strive to serve all our students well. As educators, we share a commitment to ensuring that all students, including those with disabilities, achieve academic success.

As part of this continued commitment, we are embarking on a process to utilize data from many sources and stakeholders to inform our long-term policy and programmatic goals to improve outcomes for students served by special education. Your participation in this project is important because the data from a large sample will help to ensure that we create a plan that is effective and responsive to the needs of all our students.

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TEA Special Education Dispute Resolution Systems Handbook

TEA has revised their Special Education Dispute Resolution Systems Handbook.  PRN Education Specialist, Chuck Noe, has reviewed the Handbook and shares his perspective on changes that have been made to it.

The introduction to TEA’s Special Education Dispute Resolution Systems Handbook says “Because the parties will need to work together in the future on matters relating to a student’s educational program, TEA’s policy is to encourage resolution of disagreements at the local level if possible. As long as a student remains in the school district, the parties will need to maintain a cooperative relationship to make future decisions about a student’s special education program. Often, parties are able to resolve disagreements by holding an ARD committee meeting, which the parent may ask for at any time, or a meeting that includes other school personnel, such as a campus administrator or the special education director, or other school district administrators or support personnel. Some school districts use neutral meeting facilitators to assist ARD committees in resolving disagreements. Parents interested in having a locally provided facilitator at an ARD committee meeting should begin by contacting their school district to learn what their options are and to ask about availability.”

Key terms are defined, then frequently asked questions (FAQs) are addressed for the four resolution processes. This factsheet discusses key FAQs for each, but readers should read the section(s) of interest to them.

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Feds to visit Texas to ask residents about special education

The U.S. Department of Education is coming to Texas to to continue an investigation into whether the state is illegally keeping students with disabilities out of special education services after learning of the Houston Chronicle articles on special ed services in TX.

Federal officials will hold public listening sessions” with students, parents, advocates and educators in Houston, Dallas, Austin, El Paso and Edinburg next month, the department said. The meetings will take place during the week of Dec. 12.

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Development of TX Rules on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Importance of Input from Parents of Children with Disabilities & Advocates

The ESSA is replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is the lead agency developing the Texas state plan which must determine how the new federal law will affect accountability, funding, school improvement, and grant-making systems.  “The passage of ESSA has created a unique opportunity to inform Texas’ education policy,” said Commissioner Morath. “However, we need input from all parts of our state to ensure that, under ESSA, all students in Texas can receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the future.”

The online ESSA survey, which will take less than ten minutes to complete, is available at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3003630/ESSA-Public-Input-Survey. The online survey provides an opportunity for anyone to share views on how the state should implement provisions of ESSA. The survey period will run through Nov. 18, 2016.

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Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of children out of special education

A Houston Chronicle investigation has found that Texas has deprived thousands of kids of special education services.

…”Walker knew the law was on her side. Since 1975, Congress has required public schools in the United States to provide specialized education services to all eligible children with any type of disability.

But what she didn’t know is that in Texas, unelected state officials have quietly devised a system that has kept thousands of disabled kids like Roanin out of special education.

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Videotapping of Special Education Classrooms

TEA has just published proposed rules on SB 507 concerning the videotapping of special education classrooms.  The comment period runs until May 9th, 2016. At that time TEA staff will review the comments, and finalize the rules. They hope to have the rules go into effect by June 16, 2016.

So, what will these changes mean for your child?  Our Education Specialist, Chuck Noe, breaks down the proposed rules:

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