HOUSTON - Are students with disabilities being pushed out of Texas schools?
Three advocacy groups claim school districts across Texas are using truancy courts to force out disabled students from their public schools and into alternative learning environments.
"The students that I meet in these courts are often students with disabilities and often students who are struggling with other obstacles in their life, homelessness, escaping domestic violence, pregnant and parenting teens," said Dustin Rynders of Disability Rights Texas.
The groups, Disability Rights Texas, the National Center for Youth Law, and Texas Appleseed have filed a complaint on behalf of seven named students, and other students with similar circumstances.
The complaint is filed against Texas Education Agency and thirteen Texas school districts from Fort Worth to Fort Bend.
Many on the list are from the Houston area including HISD, Conroe, Clear Creek, Pasadena, Galena Park, and Galveston Independent School Districts.
Rynder stated, "One of the students highlighted in this complaint is a HISD student who actually didn't miss any class, but was counted absent when he was in his special education class and not in his regular education class."
The claim states disabled students who missed class ended up in truancy court and were ordered or "encouraged" to do homeschooling or enroll into GED programs.
"It's strange here in Texas because we're one of two states that criminally prosecute children for missing school," Rynder further stated.
Texas Appleseed says they found more than six thousand students who were ordered by courts to drop out of school between 2010 and 2013, and one in five of those students had disabilities.
HISD says they're reviewing the complaints.
If these allegations turn out to be true, it'll be quite a learning experience for any districts involved in this practice.
A copy of the claim can be found here.