The Arc of Texas Provides Commentary on Parental Roles in Education
The Arc of Texas Leadership and Advocacy Coordinator Wendy Ward submitted written comments to the Texas House Public Education Committee in connection with parents’ role in their children’s education. Ward provided comments for the committee hearing on July 26, 2022. Read the comments submitted below.
Dear Chairman Dutton and Committee Members:
Thank you for your leadership in addressing interim charges with implications for special education in Texas public schools.
The Arc of Texas promotes, protects, and advocates for the human rights and self-determination of more than a half-million Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). We believe parents of children with disabilities must have a meaningful role in their children’s education. We have the following recommendations:
To preserve the right to a free and appropriate public education enshrined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and freedom from discrimination set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, parents have a right to input into school policies ensuring parity for their children with IDD. Parents deserve strong public schools that deliver inclusive special education services in the least restrictive environment; protect their children from discrimination, abuse, and harm; and promote social and emotional learning.
To the greatest extent possible, students with disabilities should be educated with their non-disabled peers. This aim is a bulwark against denial of opportunity. Inclusive education considers what works for all children, including children with disabilities. An evidence-based inclusive approach elevates behavior in the classroom, instructional methods of teachers, and a school’s administrative culture. As schools are at the foundation of civic life, values instilled through inclusive education radiate into the larger community.
School districts must comply with the law and ensure students receiving special education services do not experience violations of their rights. They must be shielded from discrimination and abuse and not subjected to unnecessary restraint and/or seclusion. In addition, students with disabilities must be included in all emergency drills and school safety plans.
Students receiving special education services should access social and emotional learning to help them achieve their goals. Like their non-disabled peers, they must have opportunities to acquire skills that contribute to holistic growth. Such opportunities should stem from strategies that prioritize their needs.
The Arc of Texas calls for a Parental Bill of Rights for Students Receiving Special Education Services with the following provisions:
- Right to meaningful participation, high expectations, and active involvement of one’s student in academics and other school-based activities in the least restrictive environment
- Right of one’s student to a safe and supportive school environment
- Right of one’s student to evidence-based practices that encourage social and emotional learning
- Right of one’s student to free and/or equitable services in terms of value and cost
- Right to communicate with classroom teachers
- Right to be treated as an equal member of an ARD Committee
We appreciate your consideration of these recommendations.