AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas may owe the federal government $223 million after the state illegally decreased funding for children with disabilities, according to The Texas Tribune.
The law behind the penalty is designed to make sure states use federal grants for special education to help students — and not offset state spending.
The U.S. Department of Education found Texas in violation of a federal statute that prohibits states from reducing their funding for kids with disabilities from year to year.
In October, lawmakers estimated the financial penalty would cost the state $33 million.
But Friday, state officials told the Texas Tribune that number is more like $223 million.
“I can teach a lot of kids to read with $33 million dollars, and the fact that it’s six or seven times that amount is just appalling,” said Serenity Owens.
Serenity Owens moved her two children back into public schools after they attended a private full-curriculum school for students with dyslexia.
“What my children were able to get was explicit, structured literacy training with all the foundational needs for adequate literacy acquisition,” said Owens.
She also works with Impact Dyslexia.
“We hear almost every day from a parent in AISD, whose special needs child is not being accommodated.”
A spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency sent KXAN a statement, which reads:
“TEA is currently in discussions with the USDE and the Texas Legislature to ensure that we have a thorough resolution for both the past and current year on all MFS concerns. The projected amount in question for prior fiscal years (2012, 2017, and 2018) totals approximately $111.4 million; the agency estimates another $111.6 million may be identified for fiscal year 2019. There are several tools available to the Legislature to address past, current, and future MFS concerns. The primary objective of the discussions in progress is to ensure that special education services for students are not negatively impacted.”