HOUSTON (FOX 26) - In the wake of devastating revelations that the Houston Independent School District systematically denied tens of thousands of disabled students the critical therapy and instruction they were entitled to by federal law, the incoming Superintendent Richard Carranza has ordered a deep review of special education, calling the probe "the first order of business."
It was Houston Chronicle reporter Brian Rosenthal whose investigation revealed Houston ISD was limiting special education services to roughly seven percent of its students, a rate that's half the national average.
"In reducing these services in special education, which the districts have clearly done, they have saved a significant amount of money," said Rosenthal. His bombshell investigation included testimony from dozens of Houston ISD educators who confirm they were forced by administrators to deny services to kids who desperately required and clearly qualified for special academic interventions.
When FOX 26 News asked Rosenthal if it was the collective belief of those educators that children were being harmed or shortchanged, he replied, "Absolutely. That was a pattern that we heard over and over again, that it was not right that kids were being denied services that they needed."
Jill Martin Booth is one of thousands of Houston ISD parents who believe their disabled children have suffered permanent damage as a result of the district's policy of denial. After nine years battling the district, she felt compelled to remove her son Blake from a system she considers thoroughly corrupted by a desire to cut costs.
"These children are slipping through the cracks, they are not getting the services, they are regressing," said Martin Booth. "They continually, systematically make things so bad that hopefully you'll pull your child."