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Austin Education Office: Killeen District Special Education Audit

Posted on March 11, 2016

The Killeen Independent School District (“KISD”) has released a special education audit completed by Gibson Consulting. The audit was discussed at the KISD Board meeting on Monday, March 7, 2016.

The Cuddy Law Firm, PLLC represents certain special education students who reside in KISD and has reviewed the special education audit.

According to the audit:

  • KISD lacks sufficient staffing in key areas including staff who evaluate students for special education and staff who provide direct services to students, especially students with behavioral needs.
  • KISD is excessively retaining students. The retention rate of first graders and ninth graders is especially high. The retention rate is higher than the state average in every grade from K-8.
  • KISD is sending excessive numbers of special education students to more restrictive disciplinary alternative programs.
  • KISD lacks consistent use of data to determine if individual children are progressing in their special education programs.

These are highlights only. The entire 110-page report is available for download at this link: Internal Audit of Special Education for the Killeen Independent School District

Sonja Kerr, Director of Impact Litigation for the Cuddy Law Firm, commented, “Sadly, the report confirms anecdotal information that we hear repeatedly from parents in the District. While we appreciate that KISD had the audit conducted, we have yet to see a detailed plan of action or even a time line for such a plan to fix the system and compensate those children affected over the years.”

Kerr also explained that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) places the onus on TEA to take action if a district cannot or will not fulfill its’ obligations; she said, “We are watching closely to see what steps TEA will take to ensure children with disabilities receive the services that they so desperately need and remedies for years of lost services.”

Other advocacy groups have also expressed concern.

Sharon Ramage of the Ramage Law Group commented, “Unfortunately, this audit does nothing more than spell out what parents, lawyers and advocates in the community have observed for years. It is especially concerning that KISD’s first step is to hire a special education director who is neither experienced nor certified in special education. KISD has a history of failing to meet the needs of its disabled students. It now has the opportunity to turn things around and make education better for students with disabilities. Let’s hope KISD does not let the opportunity pass the students by.”

David Beinke, Director of Advocacy for Cirkiel and Associates, agrees. Mr. Beinke reports he has observed ongoing issues in KISD for more than a decade. Cirkiel and Associates currently has 2 federal complaints with United State Department of Education Office of Civil Rights for allegations of discrimination towards students with disabilities. Mr. Beinke reports that the KISD website is also inaccessible, pursuant to federal law, for persons who are blind or have impaired vision. Additional Office of Civil Rights complaints are being filed today to address those issues.

Special education attorney, Dorene Philpot, commented, “Having litigated numerous special education cases statewide, I believe that Killeen ISD is actually doing worse by its special education students than even some of the most historically deficient school districts, such as Beaumont ISD.”

The advocates urge TEA and KISD to take swift and immediate steps to improve the services to children with disabilities by designing an action plan with concrete steps and firm deadlines.

For more information, please contact:

The Cuddy Law Firm, PLLC, Sonja Kerr, Director of Impact Litigation at 610-675-7192.

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