Having Lost One Court Fight Over Special Ed Funding, Texas Could Be On The Hook For Millions More

Texas already owes the federal government over $33 million for special education money it didn’t use in 2012. Now, disability rights advocates say the state underfunded special education services by over $41 million in 2017.

By Jill AmentNovember 12, 2018 7:10 am,

On Friday we reported that a federal appeals court affirmed that the state of Texas owes more than $30 million to the federal government after it cut funding for special education during 2012. Now, disability rights advocates say they’ve found documents that could put the state on the hook for over $40 million more.

Aliyya Swaby reports on public education for The Texas Tribune, and says the court ruled that Texas should return the $33.3 million to the U.S. Department of Education, which the state received, but didn’t use to fund special education. Texas argues that it adequately funded its special education services. 

Now, according to records from 2017, Texas didn’t use another $41.6 million worth of federal money during that year, either. Swaby says the federal government would have to sue to reclaim that money. 

As for the $33 million the court recently ordered Texas to pay back, Swaby says the Texas Education Agency is calling it just a small portion of state special education spending.

“The $33 million is three percent of the amount that Texas gets from the federal government for special education every year,” Swaby says. “And so, they have reassured lawmakers that it’s not so much money that it would affect their special education programs.”

Swaby says that the state might be allowed to spread out payments to the feds over a period of time, making the loss easier to manage.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.