AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin Independent School District said on Thursday it met one of the first deadlines the Texas Education Agency set out to fix the district’s special education system.
The school district has been under the watch of a state-appointed monitor since September. The board of trustees voted 8-1 to accept the deal from TEA after state investigators found the district repeatedly failed to evaluate students suspected of needing special education services on time.
In a letter to parents, the district said it met TEA’s Oct. 31 deadline to evaluate students who had been waiting since the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school year. District officials also said they created education plans for all those students.
But according to data previously provided by TEA and AISD, it would mean the district created education plans for more than 239 students in a matter of 12 days.
The district reported to KXAN that as of Oct. 19, 239 students from the previous school year were still waiting on individualized education plans. District officials also said it was already past the state’s 30-day timeline to produce plans for at least 35% of those students.
“The district has been laser-focused on eliminating the backlog of evaluations and providing compensatory services to help students make up for progress or skills they may have lost when their special education services were not provided,” AISD officials said in a statement.
Earlier this year, at the end of August, TEA data showed the district had yet to produce individualized education plans for 433 students who got parental consent to be evaluated last school year.
The same report showed 30 students who got parental consent two school years ago who, as of Aug. 31, were also still waiting on an individualized education plan and for help with their learning disabilities to start.
District officials said it is recruiting members for a new special education family advisory committee and is working towards the next state deadline on Dec. 31. The board plans to receive an update on the districts’ progress during the Jan. 25, 2024, regular voting meeting.