'It's reckless': Parents react after HISD plans to relocate profoundly disabled students to different schools

Julie Beeson says the T.H. Rogers School has been a godsend for her son, Beau. The 15-year-old was born prematurely with cerebral palsy and deals with frequent illnesses. 

Rogers was once considered a flagship for kids with multiple impairments, the deaf, and the exceptionally gifted. When she and over 30 other families received a letter from Houston's Special Education Director stating students like Beau would be getting relocated to their neighborhood school next year, she was very concerned.

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"We felt so gaslighted," says Beeson. "It says, "We have exciting news." How is it exciting to separate all of our children? We could've gone to our home schools if we wanted to." 

The letter from Director Cynthia Hoppman states, "Due to the unique programming required for your student and the specialized instruction provided in the PSI classroom, we will be working with both TH Rogers School and campuses close to your home address to ensure a seamless transition." 

Copy of the letter sent to parents at TH Rogers about the plans to change accommodations for select students in 2023 - 2024. 

The PSI, or Preparing Students for Independence program, accommodates profoundly disabled students, but Julie says children like her son Beau will never be independent. Rogers is also the only facility built with special accommodations and has proximity to clinics for emergencies. 

"There are just people who are there trained to handle our children…there is no way HISD can accommodate the children and their extreme medical needs outside the Rogers setting," says Beeson.

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The school also dispersed the students enrolled in the deaf program to neighborhood schools in 2021. Many of the PSI parents believe HISD wants to make the campus cater to gifted students only. 

HISD released this statement to FOX 26 when asked about the reason for the decision in 2023: 

"HISD is committed to ensuring all students have access to the best environment to ensure an exceptional educational experience. In an effort to ensure the least restrictive environment (LRE) for our 49 1st – 12th grade Preparing Students for Independence (PSI) special education students at the T.H. Rogers School, we will be transitioning these students to their home/neighborhood campuses (with PSI programs) for the 2023-2024 school year. This decision was made after extensive consideration and collaboration with our TEA Special Education Conservators." 

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Parents are planning to attend Friday's in-person and virtual meetings to learn more about this decision.

"Beau has to have a serious scoliosis surgery this summer, and instead of worrying about his surgeries, I have to worry about after he rehabilitates, where do we go?" asks Beeson. "There is no bigger indicator of character than how you treat the helpless in society. And HISD should have character. I think the taxpayers would want it that way."