PRESS CONFERENCE MEDIA ADVISORY – UPDATED 3/3/2017, 4:00 PM
Edie Surtees, Communications Director
esurtees@DRTx.org, 512-407-2739 (direct), 720-220-3971 (mobile)
WHEN: Monday, March 6, 2017 – 11:00 am
WHERE: Room 2W.6 (House Press Room), Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX
WHY: In 2004, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) implemented an arbitrary 8.5 percent limit on special education enrollment. Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) uncovered the rule in 2014, buried deep within TEA’s school performance manual and started working to eliminate the cap. In late 2016, an in-depth series of investigative reports in the Houston Chronicle brought the harmful and illegal practice to the full attention of the public. Data gathered by reporter Brian Rosenthal estimates that tens of thousands of students have been denied critical education services that they are entitled to under federal law.
DRTx welcomed the news stories as a wake-up call urging Texas legislators and the U.S. Department of Education to take serious notice of the grave concerns held by parents of children with disabilities, educators, and advocates, and to commit to implementing measures to end the enrollment limit.
On January 30, 2017, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), represented by DRTx and pro-bono counsel Winston & Strawn LLP of Houston, sent a letter to TEA and its Commissioner, Mike Morath, demanding that he make good on his public promises to take action to end the cap.
The letter stated that CTD would pursue further legal action if the Commissioner did not respond with an action plan within 30 days.
BREAKING NEWS: Late in the day on Thursday, March 2, 2017, CTD received a last-minute response from the TEA Commissioner and will announce the details of the response at the press conference as well as other critical legislative strategies needed to remedy the problems caused by the 8.5 percent special education enrollment limit.
SPEAKERS: Dennis Borel, Executive Director, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities; Steven Aleman and Rachel Gandy, Disability Rights Texas; Family Members of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities Impacted by the 8.5 Percent Cap; Key Legislators Working on the Issue.
Speakers will be available for individual media interviews after the press conference final Q&A.