Texas denies putting barriers on special education access

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Education Agency has denied putting a cap on student enrollment in special education in a letter to federal officials who raised concerns over a newspaper report.

A lengthy response sent Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Education comes more than a month after the Houston Chronicle reported that schools began denying special education services after the state imposed an 8.5 percent enrollment benchmark in 2004.

State officials said they have no evidence of a “systematic denial” of special education services to students with disabilities. But the agency said it will begin taking steps to eliminate confusion by districts about enrollment.

Republican House Speaker Joe Straus called on the agency last month to make changes so that students who should qualify for special education aren’t turned away.