- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

DALLAS (AP) - Some Hispanic students in Dallas have struggled to get special education services because of language and other communication issues, but an external review found no evidence of intentional exclusion.

The Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second largest with 160,000 students, ordered the review amid widespread concerns about special education services in Texas. A summary was released Friday by the district, according to The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/2lq6Sdt ).

Federal officials are investigating Texas after reports suggested a perceived enrollment cap was leading schools to deny students services. Parents, teachers, principals and other faculty were interviewed for the district report.

Consultants found no evidence of purposefully kept children out of special education, said Ivan Duran, district deputy superintendent.

In Dallas, most of the problems stemmed from limited staffing, language barriers and unclear procedures, the report found. Parents said adequate translation wasn’t always provided for them to understand their children’s needs or to be able to ask for services.

While 70 percent of the district is Hispanic, such students make up only about 60 percent of special education enrollment. The report found that Limited English Proficient students make up 44 percent of the Dallas district but only 35 percent of special education enrollment.

The district needs to do a better job identifying children who need services and fix the process so that they can get through the system faster, Duran said.

“We really have to make sure all staff know how students get referred into special education in the first place and clarify that process so everyone knows,” Duran said. “And once kids were put into the queue, so to speak, it was taking too much time for them to get what they needed sometimes.”

The Houston Independent School District is the state’s largest with about 215,000 students.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com


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