Special Education

Children's icon, a cluster of simplified figures, one smaller than the other two.

Our Position

Vouchers: CTD opposes the passage of any voucher program, and calls on Legislators to ensure that children with disabilities are adequately served in public and charter schools. Discussions about voucher programs are a distraction from constructive efforts to fix systemic flaws in the Texas special education system.

Special Ed Reforms: CTD applauds the 85th Legislature for eliminating the 8.5% cap on special education services. However, this is only the beginning of the reforms that must occur in order to give children and young adults with disabilities an opportunity to thrive in public school and become self-directed, independent adults. In 2019 CTD supports additional legislation that provides school districts with guidance and the resources to address the current systemic failures in both the identification of special education students, and delivery of special education services.

The Latest

After a 17-month long investigation, the Department of Education (DOE) has found that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) violated federal law by setting an 8.5% "target" for special education enrollment. (Jan. 11, 2018)

Our comments, with Disability Rights Texas and the Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities, to TEA on the Texas State Plan for Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. (Aug. 29, 2017)

In special session, lawmakers passed a school finance bill to fund programs for students with dyslexia and autism, but some errors in the fine print of the bill could result in much fewer students served than intended. (Aug. 17, 2017)

In special session, House Public Education committee votes to remove vouchers from SB 2 (Taylor, etc.) and instead, use funds for after school programs for students with disabilities. (Aug. 4, 2017)

Special session items to include voucher for students with disabilities. Listen to Disability Rights Texas' Rachel Gandy on how such legislation would actually affect Texas kids, on the Texas Standard. (Jul. 5, 2017)


In the fall of 2016, the Houston Chronicle released their report Denied: How Texas Keeps Tens of Thousands out of Special Education, detailing the Texas Education Agency's (TEA) 8.5% cap on special education enrollment in public schools. Although long-standing Federal laws guarantee each person’s right to an appropriate education, an estimated 250,000 children have been excluded from necessary services and supports due to an arbitrary performance indicator that effectively created the cap. In Texas almost half of those who should qualify (12-13% is the national average) were denied services. The families of many others spent years battling to get their school districts to acknowledge their child’s disability and provide the services and supports necessary for them to learn and thrive.

In December 2016, the Department of Education (DOE) and TEA set up a blog and held a series of listening sessions around the state, the first opportunity for stakeholders to provide input to these agencies. Nearly one thousand concerned parents, educators, self-advocates, and allies told their painful stories of exclusion and failure. The listening sessions brought to light that the denial of services and marginalization of children needing special education services are systemic, revealing to many families that their own experiences were shared by others'.

The DOE ended their investigation with the conclusion that TEA had violated federal law by setting the cap.

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