Texas lawmakers left the Capitol this week with some hits and some misses for a state special education program that has faced intense federal scrutiny in the past few years.
As the legislative session came to a close Monday, lawmakers approved a budget that included around $223 million in state funds to pay off a financial penalty to the federal government — and to allow the state to avoid future penalties — for illegally decreasing spending on special education and to prevent another spending issue this fiscal year. And they made several changes to the way Texas spends money to educate kids with disabilities, including dyslexia, intended to avoid violating federal law in years to come.
However, they chose not to approve a provision that would have taken a closer look at how the state’s education officials are overhauling special education, which is still under a separate federal investigation. And advocates lament that few bills passed that would impact students with disabilities in their classrooms, including improvements for special education training for teachers.
“We did not get everything we wanted, but we understand, rarely do you always get 100% of what you request,” said Steven Aleman, lawyer at Disability Rights Texas. “Certainly, the Legislature did pay attention to special education in these critical bills, laying the foundation to us moving toward compliance.”
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