Disability Rights Texas sent a letter Thursday to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath calling for an investigation into the Austin Independent School District. The advocacy group said Austin ISD is violating federal and state law by failing to evaluate in a timely manner students who may have disabilities. The evaluations are used to determine whether students are eligible for special education services.
“Until that evaluation is done, they receive no special education services,” said Kym Davis Rogers, an attorney for Disability Rights Texas. “So they’re not getting anything they’re entitled to receive under the law.”
The group said in the letter to Morath that the Texas Education Agency has known for several years that Austin ISD is not complying with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. It requires an initial evaluation be conducted within 45 school days once a parent or guardian provides consent. Disability Rights Texas filed a federal lawsuit against Austin ISD in March 2021 over the delayed evaluations that the district unsuccessfully tried to get dismissed. The group has also previously asked TEA to investigate the district.
“There have been many promises and statements that Austin has made that they are addressing the problem, but we recently received numbers that show actually the delay for initial evaluations is worse than it was when we first learned about this in the fall of 2020,” she said.
According to Disability Rights Texas, Austin ISD had 647 delayed initial evaluations in December of 2020. Rogers said initial evaluations for 875 students were delayed as of December 2022, and another 956 students who had previously been evaluated were overdue for an updated one as of November 2022.
To read the full article, Austin ISD has a backlog of special education evaluations. A disability rights group wants action, visit the KUT website.