Keep Tabs on TEA: Timeline of Illegal Limit on Texas Special Ed

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Disability Rights Texas Handout

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Keep Tabs on TEA: Timeline of Illegal Limit on Texas Special Ed

This timeline reflects the history of the Texas Education Agency’s illegal 8.5 percent cap on special education enrollment and the correction action plan to make it right.


Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) notices steady annual downward trend in number of children receiving special education services in Texas.


Disability Rights Texas discovers TEA performance requirement: school districts must maintain 8.5 percent or less enrollment in special education.


DRTx attempts to eliminate the illegal 8.5 percent cap:

  • Submits formal public comments at hearings alerting TEA to our concerns.
  • Files complaint with TEA.
  • Provides legal representation and advocacy services to hundreds of families struggling to get testing or services.
  • Forms coalition of advocacy groups to speak up against the cap.


  • Houston Chronicle publishes series of investigative stories exposing TEA based on tip from DRTx.
  • About 25 0,00 kidskept out of special education services.
  • National media attention to the issue.
  • S. Department of Ed takes notice and receives comments from thousands of parents, teachers, administrators, and others through listening sessions and website forum.


  • DRTx continues to work with Houston Chronicleand other news outlets to provide data and stories of families impacted.
  • TEA agrees to end the cap in response to demand letter from DRTx.
  • Texas legislature passes law to ensure TEA removal of the cap and provide relief for impacted students.


  • U.S. Department of Ed finds Texas in violation of federal special education law (IDEA).
  • TEA required to create a 5-year corrective action plan with public input.
  • Implementation of action plan dependent on adequate state funding.

The TEA Corrective Action Plan

Disability Rights Texas and other concerned organizations will continue to closely monitor special education enrollment numbers and hold TEA accountable to implementing corrective action. Visit the Special Education section of the TEA website to review the detailed plan and get progress updates.

  1. Evaluations and Services: Schools must give all students with disabilities evaluations and special education.
  2. Guidance and Training: TEA must send schools guidelines and train educators on special education.
  3. Information and Resources: TEA must prepare clear and helpful explanations of special education.
  4. Monitoring and Enforcement: TEA must check that schools are providing special education.


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Statewide Intake: 1-800-252-9108
Sign Language Video Phone: 1-866-362-2851
Purple 2 Video Phone: 512-271-9391
Online Intake available 24/7: intake.DRTx.org

Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.

The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.

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