HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza issued the following statement today in response to concerns about special education services:

“Members of the HISD Board of Education and I have followed closely the statewide debate over Texas’ approach to serving students with special needs. The stories of frustrated parents in school districts across Texas, including some in HISD, are heartbreaking. Let me be clear and unequivocal — There is zero tolerance for the withholding of services to any student who qualifies for an individual educational plan in HISD. Schools should be parents’ allies, not their adversaries. No child should go without the services they need just because a bureaucrat is determined to meet an arbitrary goal. This is why we vehemently oppose any state-mandated cap on the number of children that a school can identify for special education services.

In my short time in Houston, I have seen no evidence that such a cap drives these decisions in a systemic way. The educators who work with HISD’s most vulnerable students are passionate about serving children. But I understand that there are many stories that I have not heard. More importantly, there may be ways we can improve how we go about serving students with special needs.

The Board of Education and I agree that our first order of business when the new year begins will be to discuss the important issue of how HISD identifies and serves its most vulnerable students.  HISD will work with independent, third-party experts to conduct a deep-dive analysis of our special education operation. We will partner with the experts — including our special education educators, principals, teachers, parents and other stakeholders — to quickly and appropriately address any and all concerns. We will have a tough conversation about the importance of serving all children, regardless of any disability. And we’ll also talk about the things we can do better. We will not talk about arbitrary bureaucratic caps that could harm children. Throughout this process, the children of Houston will be our north star.

Together, we will find solutions that serve our children, because that is what Houston expects, and that is what Houston’s children deserve.”

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