The education of special-needs students has been a concern of parents in the Killeen Independent School District and is becoming a state and national issue.
KISD parents, long concerned about delays in getting the appropriate educational services for their children, remained concerned about delays in getting camera monitors into the classroom as provided by law.
Parents and other residents can attend the KISD meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday and speak at the public forum.
Each person is limited to a three-minute presentation. All discussion item material can also be found on KISD’s website.
Meanwhile, as reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday, the federal government is looking into the state’s declining rate of students receiving special-needs education.
The federal government has began to intervene on the state government’s 8.5 percent benchmark for special education enrollment unless the state can show school districts aren’t keeping students with disabilities from receiving proper educational services.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the U.S. Department of Education gave the state 30 days before it must report back on the benchmark’s impact and also on which school districts may have used it to deny special education services to children.
Sue Swenson, the department’s acting assistant secretary for special education, wrote in a three-page letter to the head of the Texas Education Agency that it appears Texas’ “approach to monitoring local educational agency compliance may be resulting in districts’ failure to identify and evaluate all students suspected of having a disability and who need special education.”
“Depending on TEA’s response, the federal government will determine whether additional monitoring activities or other administrative enforcement or corrective actions are necessary,” said Swenson.
While there has been a lot of local attention on the state investigation into delays at KISD, Swenson’s message raises statewide concern.
She said the state’s approach to monitoring compliance might be resulting in “districts’ failure to identify and evaluate all students suspected of having a disability and who need special education.”
Almana Ahmad, a special education parent recently contacted KDH expressing concern about a delay in camera monitors in League City.
Clear Creek ISD has been allegedly denying parents’ requests for cameras in special education classrooms because of a supposed loophole in the wording of Education code 29.022, Ahmad said.
The code requires video and audio recording in Special Education classrooms if a parent completes a formal request form. The policy will only apply to special education classrooms that are self-contained for more than 50 percent of the day. Ahmad accused Clear Creek ISD of moving the students from one classroom to another before they reach 50 percent of the day and thus are not required to fill the request by installing the cameras for surveillance.
Over the past few weeks, KISD had expressed a lack of clear understanding about how the TEA would like the district to proceed with its actions under the new law on camera monitors. District officials said last week they received some explanation of what steps are needed to comply with the state and federal government rulings.
District officials said in a statement, “The Texas Attorney General has just recently provided the Texas Education Administration, TEA, Commissioner with further clarification referencing Senate Bill 507 requirements. As soon as TEA publishes definitive guidance, KISD will finalize policy, procedures, and install appropriate cameras.”
Six KISD families have requested the cameras. The district purchased the cameras but none of them have been fully installed or turned on.
While KISD has began to be pressed for time with less than three months remaining before the education codes deadline is passed at the start of the new year, KISD officials have expressed their optimistic outlook on getting the job done.
“We are confident in our ability to comply with all policies and procedures associated with Senate Bill 507 once clarification is received,” the district said.
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