AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Education Agency granted a request from the Austin Independent School District on Wednesday for less severe state intervention in the district’s special education services, according to AISD officials.

The TEA announced in March its recommendation for a conservator to direct the operations of the Austin ISD special education department. The conservator would be able to make decisions for the district, as it relates to special education.

The recommendation was a less extreme state intervention model than what is happening currently in Houston ISD where the Texas education commissioner has appointed a board of managers to exercise the powers of the Houston ISD school board.

The recommendations came after the TEA released a report finding the district repeatedly missed strict state and federal deadlines on evaluating students suspected of needing special education services.

The report found the district had in some cases waited up to nine months to evaluate students.

“The process of a full, independent evaluation, that’s really the gateway into special education services for students with disabilities,” said Colleen Potts with Disability Rights Texas. “Without that timely and full evaluation, services don’t start. so that’s the important part of that evaluation process.”

The district appealed TEA’s recommendation in April 2023, requesting instead the state appoint a monitor. A monitor, according to the TEA, would only be able to report the activities of the board of trustees or the superintendent to the state.

According to AISD Superintendent Matias Segura, TEA officials presented an alternative Wednesday to the conservator placement. During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, he would not share many details of this new TEA plan, saying it would be discussed behind closed doors at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Wednesday’s full news conference about the plan is below.

“We appreciate that TEA acknowledges our progress toward implementing sustainable, transformative improvements to special education,” Segura said in a statement. “My leadership team and our board of trustees will review this proposal carefully in the days ahead.”

Arati Singh, president of Austin ISD’s board of trustees, said Wednesday district leaders have yet to determine their response to the state’s latest proposal. She said the TEA will require board members to vote on the plan by Sept. 29 at the latest.

The district said since January it’s been implementing an aggressive plan for evaluating students quicker than in years past. The district said it decreased its pending evaluations by 35% since January 2023 – and tripled the number of staff who can implement the evaluations.