In January, Gov. Greg Abbott instructed the Texas Education Agency to draft a plan to improve special education services to students in school districts statewide.
Abbott was concerned about failures of school districts to provide proper federally-mandated services to students with special needs.
One of those districts is the Copperas Cove Independent School District, which is being sued by parents of a third-grade student who has been refused services for his dyslexia.
CCISD currently has 875 special education students, according to Superintendent Joe Burns’ annual State of the District address.
The lawsuit against the district was filed July 28, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas by attorney Elizabeth Angelone of the Cuddy Law Firm in Austin.
The complaint states that the parents wish to appeal a decision by a Texas Education Agency special education hearing officer denying their son special education services.
Citing information about dyslexia, including that 1 in 5 individuals suffer from the disorder, the complaint continues, “Children with dyslexia cannot be denied evaluation for and eligibility for special education instruction and related services pursuant to the IDEA ([Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) simply because there is a Texas State Dyslexia law.”
Texas was the first state to pass a dyslexia law in 1985, which offered services to students with the disorder through general education.
The lawsuit against CCISD seeks to reverse the TEA hearing officer’s decision and ensure the child receives an appropriate Individual Education Plan from the Copperas Cove school district and the district provides appropriate services for his dyslexia, along with awarding the parents attorneys’ fees and costs.
Wendy Sledd, CCISD spokeswoman, responded to inquiries about the lawsuit via email. “We cannot comment on pending litigation or confidential student information.”
As to the number of students awaiting special education evaluations, Sledd said, “The number being assessed varies from day to day. So, that number is constantly changing.”
CCISD posted an announcement on the district’s Facebook page March 2 saying a Parent Dyslexia Information Night will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 22 at Clements/Parsons Elementary School, 1115 N. Dancer.
Sessions on the definition of dyslexia, experience with the disorder, support, remediation and accommodation in CCISD will be part of the event, which is open to the public.