By setting an enrollment target for special education, the Texas Education Agency violated federal law that ensures a free, appropriate public education to all students with disabilities. That's what the U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday,after a 15-month investigation.
"I think this is a great day," Kym Rogers, a Dallas-based attorney with Disability Rights Texas, said. "I think that the children with disabilities in the state of Texas who have been ignored ... and not gotten the services they need, they've been somewhat validated."
Here's what happened in Texas, and why it matters.
Every student eligible for special education has the federal right to receive it. Texas officials put out an arbitrary number — 8.5 percent of enrollment — that in effect limited how many students could get special education services. Districts could be penalized if they went over that rate. Across the country, 13 percent of students, on average, are identified as needing special education — in some states, more.