Texas Legislature Ends Special Education Cap

tablet in the hand of a person, with News and Special Education on the screen

by Andy Jones
June 12, 2017

The Texas House voted unanimously May 10 to pass a bill ordering the Texas Education Agency to never again cap the number of students enrolled in special education programs.

While in most states about 13 percent of students receive special education services, the figure has stood at 8.5 percent in Texas since 2004, the result of an unofficial cap implemented by the TEA.

Disability Rights Texas uncovered the cap, which violates the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which, among other things, requires an individualized inquiry into each student’s eligibility for special education services.

The TEA announced in March that it would eliminate the cap, but advocates continued to pursue legislative changes as well.

The Senate already previously passed a version of the bill, which now heads to Governor Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign the measure.

"SB 160 symbolizes the thousands of children who were denied access to their rights, as well as the parents, advocates, and teachers who fought tirelessly for them only to be stymied by a misguided TEA policy," Disability Rights Texas wrote in a statement, according to the Houston Chronicle. "However, the bill is more than a symbol – it also statutorily holds TEA officials to their promise. The bill ensures that future TEA commissioners have no latitude to disregard students with disabilities, thereby protecting students for generations to come."

Read the Houston Chronicle’s investigation into the special education cap.

Disability Rights Texas and Disability Rights Washington are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Texas and Washington, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.