The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Without immediate action, the “corrections” made by the Texas legislature to meet the appropriateness requirement for special education will result in imminent peril for students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as their parents. Tens of thousands of children fall between the cracks as a result of Texas’ illegalities and the lack of responsibility Texas’ lawmakers and Texas Education Agency (TEA) have for special education. If Texas does not fully devote itself to a significant overhaul of its special education practices, students will continue to be left behind.

Congress enacted the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) because “[i]mproving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” However, throughout the years, Texas has continuously disregarded the importance of providing appropriate educational standards for children with ASD. For example, in 2004, Texas illegally implemented an 8.5% cap on special education services, resulting in the federal government requiring Texas to pay billions of dollars to provide special education services to students previously denied services. Additionally, in 2019, Texas illegally reduced the amount of state financial support for special education, causing Texas to owe $223 million in state funds to pay off the financial penalty to the federal government. Texas would not be in this financial predicament if they followed the requirements in IDEA and did not try to cheat the system. Texas lawmakers should therefore strive for the moral and long-term financial benefits that would result from the mentality shift and increased funding for special education.

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The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Lydia R. Harris