The U.S. Department of Education plans to hold five “listening sessions” around Texas, as part of a continuing response to a series in the Houston Chronicle that asserted the state was artificially suppressing special education enrollment.
The listening sessions will be held from Dec. 12-15 in Dallas, Houston, El Paso, Edinburg, and Austin. Additionally, the Education Department set up a blog Monday for people to leave comments through Jan. 6.
In the September series, called “Denied,” Chronicle reporter Brian Rosenthal said that the Texas Education Agency had set 8.5 percent as a de facto special education enrollment cap for school districts, and that districts that had a higher percentage of special education students faced strict audits. The Education Department’s office of special education and rehabilitative services sent a letter to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, asking the state to explain the allegations made in the series of articles.
In a response dated Nov. 2, the Texas Education Agency strongly denied that districts were penalized for special education enrollments over 8.5 percent. The letter also said Texas will send a letter to all districts reminding them of their obligations to find and evaluate children who may have disabilities.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.