Who will pay for T.E.A.’s error?

Yesterday we told you about the 5th Circuit decision in 2018 that held that Texas violated the “maintenance of effort” requirement in IDEA for Fiscal Year 2012.  The court held that the Department of Education should withhold future IDEA funds to Texas to the tune of over $33,000,000.  That amount of money could have funded a lot of diagnosticians and speech therapists. 

After the 2018 court decision, T.E.A. entered into discussions with the feds, seeking an agreeable resolution of this mess. That didn’t work.  The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) sent a letter to Commissioner Morath on October 1, 2021, informing the Commissioner that “the determination is now final, and the Department will reduce Texas’s IDEA section 611 award in a future Federal fiscal year due to the State’s failure to maintain State financial support for special education and related services in SFY 2012.”

If state revenues do not compensate for this massive shortfall, this is going to hurt the people that IDEA is designed to serve—students with disabilities and their parents.  If the state does not make up for this shortfall, it will be setting up local school officials to try to explain to parents why the special education department cannot provide services that students need.  

It’s pretty simple. Less money from Washington to Austin means less money from Austin to your school district. That means a reduction in special education services….or….you take this money out of some other budget? 

I hope that superintendents, board members, educators of all kinds, and the parents of all students will collectively express their outrage at this failure of leadership in our state.


Got a question or comment for the Dawg?  Let me hear from you at jwalsh@wabsa.com

Tomorrow:  do you have a “special relationship” with students?