Students Learning English Shut Out Most By Texas’ Cap On Special Education

Officials with the U.S. Department of Education will hold a listening session on special education Monday evening in Houston.

By Laura IsenseeDecember 13, 2016 9:48 am, , ,

From Houston Public Media

For a year and a half, Angeles Garcia has tried to get her son special help at school in Houston. She’s been worried about his progress ever since he was little.

Angel Vazquez, 9, has hearing loss in both ears, has trouble speaking and struggles to concentrate in class. He is a year behind in school and just learned how to read last year in second grade.

A school psychologist told his mom that he might have autism.

“I’m worried that he’ll stay like this, that he won’t learn anything, because I know in reality that he needs help,” Garcia said in an interview in Spanish.

Garcia wants her son evaluated for special education. She’s sent the school, Sanchez Elementary, three letters, including medical documents. Even his second grade bilingual teacher tried to help get the process started, telling Garcia something was wrong.

First, there was no response from the Houston Independent School District. Then Garcia was told that Angel had to wait a year because he transferred from school in Mexico, where the academic system was different. She received correspondence only in English, with no translation, leaving her confused.

The family is still waiting.

“I really feel bad because my son is growing up and time is going by,” Garcia said. “And what’s going to happen with him? He’s not advancing at all.”

Garcia is among many parents in Texas caught up in the state’s de facto cap on special education. And kids like her son Angel, who are learning English, have been shut out the most from getting services, ever since Texas created an arbitrary benchmark for how many children could receive services.

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