AUSTIN, Texas - The clock is ticking before Austin ISD has to respond to the Texas Education Agency's proposed order for Austin ISD to consider in place of a conservatorship over special education.
TEA’s new proposal requires a board vote by Sept. 29, which the district anticipated to take place at the Sept. 21 Regular Board Voting Meeting. However, after going into executive session, the board decided to push the vote to Tuesday, Sept. 26 in a special meeting. The district says this will allow the public more time to review the order.
After the district announced the proposed alternative plan on Aug. 30, the district invited the community to share their input.
"I'm very concerned about the possibility of a monitor being able to immediately install a conservator or a board of managers. I'm concerned about the oversight from lone star governance," said concerned parent Leah Kelly.
Austin ISD has been dealing with a backlog on initial evaluations. The district updated the community last month on the progress that they have been making.
In January, pending evaluations have decreased by 35 percent.
The district has tested 80 percent more students this summer and added 50 special education staff members to accommodate the influx of students, needing services.
"The impact of doing evaluations is more students get qualified for special education services, and that means more work needs to be done to meet students where they are in each and every classroom across the district," said concerned parent Deborah Trejo.
After seeing TEA’s takeover at Houston ISD, parents are concerned on how that will affect them here in central Texas.
"I'm very much concerned that the TEA takeover from Houston has not resulted in improved services for students with disabilities. I'd like to see Austin ISD do a lot better job of serving students, but I would also like them to better engage the community to determine where those needs are and how they can best meet them," said Trejo.
Austin ISD says this is not a conservatorship, it's a collaboration between the district and TEA.
If the proposed order gets approved, there will be a series of reporting requirements to the TEA.