This week, federal officials are visiting six school districts, including Lubbock ISD, to monitor how the districts are educating students with disabilities.
It’s part of the U.S. department’s on-going investigation into Texas’ compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities Act. LISD was randomly selected.
One parent, Kellye Turner, has a daughter in the special education program and wants to share how being in the program has impacted her entire family.
“Knatalye is non-verbal, but she has started to say just a couple of words like Mama and I attribute that to the consistency of speech therapy, and in the classroom there are communicative devices,” Turner said. “Every service that has been asked for has been granted to us.”
Turner’s daughter, Knatalye was diagnosed with autism at age three, and Turner said she has been in the Special Education program at LISD for 11 years.
“With her being our first child and not knowing what our needs are and the milestones we were missing, I heavily relied on the teachers,” Turner said.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) began monitoring after the significant decline in the number of children identified as children with disabilities eligible for special education and related services in Texas.
Kami Finger, executive director of special education at LISD, said the state standard at the time of the investigation was 8.5 percent. She says LISD has fallen far above the state standard. They currently have 12 percent of students in special education programs.
“We’ve always exceeded the state standard and haven’t worried about the percentage of students receiving special ed services,” Finger said.
The district wants to make sure every student is accounted for. She said the officials will be evaluating their Child Find practices.
Child Find locates, identifies and evaluates infants, children and young adults through age 21 who may have a developmental delay or other disabilities ensuring that each child, regardless of disability is educated toward his or her maximum potential, Finger said. She also said each child is re-evaluated every three years.
“Ensuring that we’re not delaying or denying an evaluation if we suspect a student has a disability and need special education services,” Finger said.
She said there are about 3,200 students receiving special education services in the district.
Turner said LISD allows her to participate in her daughter’s success and she continually sees her daughter make significant strides both at school and at home.
“With the parent advisory council, we get together and we talk about goals that were set for the previous year, they are very diligent about wanting to meet those goals,” Turner said.
Finger said the district will take this time to discuss funding and additional resources with the U.S. Department of Education officials.