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TCASE, TASA Respond to Governor’s Letter Blaming Districts for State’s Special Education Problems

01.11.2018 — Today Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter directing Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to take immediate action to address findings in a report from the U.S. Department of Education on the delivery of special education services in the state. Abbott gave TEA seven days to draft a corrective action plan. Read the governor’s press release and TEA’s statement in response to the directive.

The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) also responded to the governor’s letter, which states: “The past dereliction of duty on the part of many school districts to serve our students and the failure of TEA to hold districts accountable are worthy of criticism.” The letter blames school districts for “multiple failures to adequately address the needs of our most vulnerable students” and states that “of particular concern were local compliance failures stemming from the long-standing 8.5 percent representation policy.”

TCASE’s response stated that the governor’s “press release quote implying that public school districts exhibited a ‘dereliction of duty’ is offensive and inaccurate.”

TASA fully supports the TCASE response to the U.S. Department of Education findings, including the organization’s disagreement with the governor’s assertion that school districts have engaged in a “dereliction of duty.” The USDE findings cite TEA with three areas of noncompliance due to the agency’s 8.5 percent special education representation indicator. The findings include examples of how local school district staff relied on TEA’s guidance on federal laws relating to special education services. School districts did not make arbitrary determinations regarding the special education services for students; they were simply responding to TEA policy.