The department launched an investigation into the state in 2016 after a Houston Chronicle report that suggested schools were trying to keep kids out of special education because the Texas Education Agency set an indicator on such enrollment at 8.5 percent.
Texas violated federal law by failing to identify and educate students with disabilities and deliberately working to decrease the number of students enrolled in special education programs, the U.S. Department of Education said in a report on Thursday.
Texas put the 8.5 percent benchmark into place in 2004 and got rid of it just previous year, after a 2016 investigation in the Houston Chronicle brought it to light.More news: David Letterman's Netflix Talk Show Debuts With Obama Interview: Grade It!
The federal education department directed Texas to take several corrective actions: produce documentation that the state is properly monitoring school districts' evaluations for special education; develop a plan and timeline to ensure that each school district will evaluate students previously denied needed services; and create a plan and timeline for the Texas Education Agency to provide guidance to educators on how to identify and educate students with disabilities.
Abbott wrote "such failures are not acceptable" and gave the TEA seven days to prepare a corrective action plan. "More importantly, I share the governor's commitment to doing what's right for special education students in our public schools".
Last spring, Texas lawmakers ended the policy of having special education enrollment benchmarks. Over that time, the Chronicle found, hundreds of thousands of children were denied special education, including English-language learners and students with mental health issues. After the policy was implemented, the rate of Texas children receiving special education plummeted from near the national average of 13 percent to the lowest in the country, the newspaper reported.More news: Rahul likely to replace Dhawan for Centurion Test
In a roundtable meeting with reporters last month, Penny Schwinn, TEA's deputy commissioner of academics, said TEA had expected to get a report from the federal government last summer - but federal officials continued to push that date back.
Parents told the I-Team some schools refused to even evaluate their children to see if they would qualify for services the federal government requires districts to provide students with disabilities.
Advocates want more state support for special education programs and better training for school administrators and teachers on how to better identify students in need, as well as more transparency on enrolment decisions. "I don't expect we would issue a statement in this regard". They did not understand that students could receive these services in both special education and general education classrooms.More news: President Trump deletes tweet as Iran crisis deepens
In addition, several states, including California, Massachussetts and New Jersey, use a census-based funding system, which assumes special education students are distributed uniformly across districts.