In Texas, children three years of age and older who need significant modifications in their educational programs may be eligible for special-education services through their school district. I asked Fran Templeton, a training specialist at the Partners Resource Network in Beaumont, to give us a quick overview of special education in Texas and suggest some things parents can do to get started.
Who should a parent in Texas contact about having a child classified for special education?If the child is receiving early-intervention services, the parent should talk with their service coordinator. If a child is not receiving early-intervention services, and parents or any other interested party believe they know of a child with a disability that might be eligible for special-education services, that person should call the special-education director of the local school district in his or her community. [Find your local school district.]
What does special education look like in Texas?While Texas focuses on providing all students with disabilities access to the general curriculum, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) also requires school districts to provide an individualized educational program developed by the Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee (ARDC). In other states, this committee is called the Individual Education Program (IEP) committee. In addition to providing access to the general curriculum, Texas students must be provided with a continuum of alternative placements. You will find Texas children receiving special education services at all places along the continuum. [Download "A Guide to the Admission, Review and Dismissal Process"]
Do you have any advice about special education in Texas?The most important thing Texas parents can do is to know and understand their educational rights. Partners Resource Network (PRN) is a non-profit agency that operates the statewide network of federally funded Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) in Texas. The PTI Projects are: PATH, PEN, and TEAM. The programs and services of PRN are based on the concept of parents helping parents. Their mission is to empower parents of children and youth with disabilities in their roles as parents, decision makers, and advocates for their children and to promote partnerships among parents and professionals. The goal of the parent training projects is to make a positive difference in the lives of infants, toddlers, children and young adults with disabilities and their families who live in the great State of Texas.
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About Partners Resource Network: Partners Resource Network helps parents to understand their child's disability; understand their rights and responsibilities under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); obtain and evaluate resources and services; and participate as team members with professionals in planning services for their children. Partners Resource Network offers individual assistance over the phone and in-person to families who have questions about their child's needs. Workshops for parents and professionals take place on an ongoing basis throughout Texas. Resources such as printed publications and online materials are available on a variety of relevant topics. Call PRN at the state office at 1-800-866-4726 or by email email@example.com. Regular office hours are Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. All of PRN's services are provided at no cost to parents of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with all types of disabilities. Click on the following link to get started: http://www.partnerstx.org.