Families Must Fight to Get Their Kids Special-ed Services, Parents Tell Feds Investigating Texas' System

Parents often have to fight with school administrators or borrow against their homes to hire attorneys before their children get the special education services they need. Families told federal authorities about the struggles they've faced in getting access to programs that help children with dyslexia, attention deficient disorders, autism and other disabilities during a listening tour on Monday. "There are so many fights against parents and all we want to do is get our children educated," said Cindy Wilkerson, whose four adopted children all needed some form of help. Officials from the U.S. Department of Education were in Richardson to hear from the community about difficulties in Texas special education system, which is under federal investigation.Disability advocates say a so-called enrollment "target" used to assess school performance amounted to an 8.5 percent cap that caused districts to deny thousands of children services. Texas Education Agency has denied having any cap on special education enrollment but said the target was to ensure students weren't inappropriately placed in such programs. Still state officials have said they will no longer use the enrollment data to intervene with districts that have high rates. Dozens of parents and students attended the meeting urging federal and state officials to thoroughly examine Texas' system and do something to make it easier for children to get help. Student Billy Wilkerson, who is 14 but a a seventh grader because of his dyslexia, said he struggled in school until his family hired a lawyer to help them fight."But there are a lot of children out there right now without the support the need to read and write," he said.   Continue reading...

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