Houston Matters

Access Denied: How Texas Denied Thousands Of Families Special Education

News 88.7 teamed up with the Houston Chronicle to dig deep into why and who in Texas did this.

ade Blouin, 16, covers her face while playing with her younger brother Zade on Saturday morning, Nov. 12, 2016. Blouin and her family moved to Pennsylvania to provide special education for her. She has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety. ( Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle )
Jade Blouin, 16, covers her face while playing with her younger brother Zade on Saturday morning, Nov. 12, 2016. Blouin and her family moved to Pennsylvania to provide special education for her. She has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety. (Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle)

Back in 2006, Marie LeMay was getting her daughter Jade ready for first grade in Round Rock, a suburb north of Austin.

She still remembers Jade’s big dream.

Mommy, I’m going to be the smartest kid in school!” LeMay recounted.

Jade remembers, too: “When I was younger, I wanted to be a superhero. I wanted to, like, save everybody and be the best out of everybody.”

Instead by the end of first grade, Jade was at the bottom of her class. Her mom thought she needed extra help for her attention deficit disorder and other learning disabilities. She asked the school to test Jade for special education. They refused to evaluate her — year after year.

 Turns out the Texas Education Agency was pressuring districts to limit how many kids received special ed– to just 8.5 percent of all children.

LeMay and thousands of other parents had no clue until the Houston Chronicle investigated a tip.

“I didn’t really believe that it was real when I first heard about it — It seemed so crazy,” said Brian Rosenthal, who uncovered the Texas’ target on special education while a reporter at the paper.

News 88.7 teamed up with the Houston Chronicle to dig deep into why and who in Texas did this.

Listen to the behinds-the-scene story on the latest episode of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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