Despite TCTA comments that urged against it, TEA overhauled many of the commissioner of education’s rules on special education in December 2014. TCTA opposed the changes because of the negative effect they could have on students and educators. 

Troubling changes to special education rules

  • TEA eliminated the requirement that the “regular teacher” member of a student’s Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) committee be a teacher responsible for implementation of the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). TCTA was responsible for adding this requirement to the rule. Its elimination means that any of the student’s regular education teachers, even one who will not have to implement any portion of the IEP, can be assigned to attend the student’s ARD committee meetings.
  • TEA also deleted the rule that required the ARD committee’s written report to indicate each member’s agreement or disagreement with the IEP. This provision provided an avenue for a teacher to note disagreement or concerns about ARD committee decisions. Likewise, language providing for ARD members to submit statements of disagreement was eliminated. Now only parents may submit these statements.
  • Language providing for a timeline for previous school districts to provide new school districts a copy of a student’s special education records was changed. Now the student’s new district must request the records from previous districts in which the student was enrolled. TCTA’s main reason to oppose this change was to ensure that IEPs are provided to teachers expeditiously. TCTA has been informed of instances in which districts did not know they needed to request special education records from students’ previous school districts.
  • TEA also eliminated a rule that required any teacher involved in a student’s instruction to have the opportunity to provide input into the student’s IEP. Often a teacher who is not the teacher-member of the ARD committee is the one to recognize deficiencies in a student’s IEP and can provide important insight and input that can improve it. However, TEA responded that districts should have the ability to choose which employees provide input into the student’s IEP.

These rules went into effect Jan. 1, 2015. Read the new rules, as well as the summary of public comments and responses.