Nearly 500 Ector County ISD students may not be receiving appropriate education

Posted on

November 14, 2023

Edie Surtees, DRTx Communications Team, esurtees@DRTX.org, 512-407-2739
Josh Ryf, DRTx Communications Team, jryf@DRTx.org, 737-295-0780

Nearly 500 Ector County ISD students may not be receiving appropriate education
Complaint filed with TEA says district violates federal education law

ODESSA, Texas—Schools are required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1975 to actively identify and evaluate students who may need special education services. According to a complaint filed today by Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Ector County ISD (ECISD) is in violation of this federal law.

The complaint says ECISD has failed to meet federally mandated timelines for evaluating students with disabilities, resulting in a denial of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under IDEA for as many as 500 children. Since the district says it still has more public records to provide to DRTx, it’s suspected that the number of children impacted is much higher.

One of the students is eleven-year-old Jiovanni who is diagnosed with ADHD. His mother Lashawn suspects he might have autism and requested an evaluation for special education services in 2021 from ECISD. He still has not been tested.

While the family waits, Jiovanni has experienced bullying, lack of positive behavior supports, and academic struggles. In one instance the school called in the police when the ten-year-old was walking around the playground trying to calm himself. The long delay in evaluating him has resulted in critical services missed that are affecting his ability to succeed in school.

“My son has been swept under the rug for a year and a half. This is seriously impacting him academically and emotionally,” said Lashawn. “He has lost hope and doesn’t feel safe at school.”

DRTx urges TEA to order the district to immediately provide evaluations or compensatory services for the students named in the complaint in addition to taking these district-wide actions:

  • Review and revise district policies pertaining to its timelines for the completion of special education evaluations.
  • Determine whether each impacted student in ECISD is eligible for compensatory education.
  • Appoint a monitor to ECISD to assist the district in establishing and carrying out a corrective action plan and monitoring its compliance with that plan.
  • Conduct an on-site audit of the educational files of all students receiving special education in the district to determine Child Find violations and training needs.

“What we are seeing in ECISD is a blatant violation of these students’ education rights,” said Tabitha Dwyer, DRTx Attorney. “The longer these students wait for evaluations, the longer they go without the services they need to be successful in school. What the school district is doing is extremely alarming and damaging to these students’ futures.”

Read the full complaint.

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Disability Rights Texas is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas established in 1977. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society.