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Recent legislation affecting Special Education

In 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 139 (SB 139), which requires Texas local education agencies (LEAs) to distribute the following notice to parents:

The contact person on each campus is the assistant principal at the elementary and middle school campuses.

At the junior and high school campuses, the assistant principal for the student's grade level is an appropriate contact. 

Additionally, we provide other opportunities to request information about our child find (referral) process, see below (also available from the front page of the DISD website):

  • If your child is age 3 to age 6 and is not enrolled in one of our elementary campuses, and you are concerned about his/her development, behavior, emotional, or physical health, please complete the Child Find Screening Request form.   
  • If your child is school age and attending one of our campuses, and you are concerned about his/her development, behavior, emotional, or physical health, please complete the Parent Inquiry form.
A parent or guardian has the right to request a special education evaluation at any time.

TEA Website on SB 139 

Dickinson ISD provided this information to all parents in September 2020 via the District's email newsletter - "Gator Bytes" and the District's printed newspaper (mailed to all DISD residents) called "The Dialogue."


Special Education or IEP-Related Questions?

Consult SPEDTex, the Texas Special Education Information Center. This is a resource backed by TEA to inform and support parents, teachers, and anyone committed to the success of children with disabilities.

Phone: 1-855-SPEDTEX (1-855-773-3839)


House Bill 4545 recently passed in the 87th Regular Legislative Session.

The new statute is effective, as of June 16, 2021, with accelerated instruction practices required during the 2021-2022 school year for all students, based on results from Spring 2021. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be providing support and guidance for local education agencies (LEAs) during the summer in a few venues:

  • This TAA provides highlights from the statute and some detail on how to interpret the implementation timeline and requirements.
  • Along with this TAA, the TEA is releasing a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that will be continually updated and will provide more detailed guidance.
  • The TEA will be releasing a series of webinars over the summer to share more detailed guidance and provide an opportunity for Q&A.
  • The TEA will release best practices resources over the summer to support implementation, including accelerated learning committee, local board policy, high-impact tutoring resources, and parent engagement guidance and tools.

HB 4545 establishes new requirements for accelerated instruction for students who do not pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®). At a high level, the legislation includes:

  • Elimination of grade retention and retesting requirements in grades 5 and 8
  • For any student who does not pass the STAAR test in grade 3, 5, or 8 in math or reading, a new LEA requirement to establish an accelerated learning committee to develop an individual educational plan for the student and monitor progress
  • For any student who does not pass the STAAR test in grades 3–8 or STAAR (EOC) end-of-course assessments, clarification of prior accelerated instruction requirements, specifying that it must include either:
    • Being assigned a classroom teacher who is a certified master, exemplary, or recognized teacher or
    • Receiving supplemental instruction (tutoring) before or after school, or embedded in the school day


Senate Bill (SB) 89, passed during the 87th Regular Texas Legislative Session, was signed into law on June 7, 2021, by Governor Abbott, and took effect immediately. 

Known as the COVID-19 Special Education Recovery Act, SB 89 amended the Texas Education Code by adding §29.0052. The COVID-19 Special Education Recovery Act is intended to help local education agencies (LEAs) identify and address special education and related service interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The act requires that the Individualized Education Program (IEP) of each student enrolled in an LEA’s special education program during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year include certain documentation. 

No later than May 1, 2022, Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committees must complete a required supplement as a written statement included in the child’s IEP. 

The required supplement must include the following information: 

  • If applicable, whether the written report of the student’s full individual and initial evaluation (FIIE) was completed during the 2019-2020 or the 2020-2021 school year and, if so, whether the report was completed by the required date; 
  • If applicable, whether the student’s initial IEP was developed during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year and, if so, whether the program was developed by the required date; 
  • For all students with an IEP, whether the provision of special education and related services to a student under their IEP during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year was interrupted, reduced, delayed, suspended, or discontinued; and 
  • Whether compensatory educational services are appropriate for the student based on the above information, or any other factors. 

While the required content must be included with the written statement of the IEP, the specific location and format of the information may be determined locally. Documentation of the required elements of SB 89 may be included within the ARD committee deliberations and/or as a supplemental form that is included as part of the ARD committee paperwork. 

If the student’s ARD committee documented all required information in the written statement of the IEP during the 2020-2021 school year, then the ARD committee is not required to prepare an additional supplement for this purpose. 

For information about required FIIE timelines and the initial provision of special education and related services as required under 19 Texas Administrative Code, §89.1011, see Special Education FIIE timelines and Frequently Asked Questions

For information about compensatory services, please refer to the Students with Disabilities Planning Supports Guidebook 2020-2021 and Considerations for Extended School Year and Compensatory Services for Students with Disabilities During and After Texas School Closures Due to COVID-19

If you have any questions related to this correspondence, please contact the Division of Special Education Programs at


The 87th Texas Legislature, Regular Session passed Senate Bill (SB) 1697.

This bill amends state law to allow parents and guardians to elect for a student to repeat a grade or retake a high school course, per Texas Education Code (TEC) §28.02124. The legislation, which went into effect on June 16, 2021, gives parents or guardians the right to opt for their child to –

  1. repeat prekindergarten;
  2. enroll in prekindergarten if the child was eligible to enroll in prekindergarten in the previous school year, under TEC, §29.153(b), and has not yet enrolled in kindergarten;
  3. repeat kindergarten;
  4. enroll in kindergarten if the child would have enrolled in kindergarten in the previous school year and has not yet enrolled in first grade*; and
  5. for grades one through three, repeat the grade the student was enrolled in the previous school year.

    According to January 2021 enrollment data, roughly 24,000 kindergarten-aged students did not enroll in kindergarten during the 2020-21 school year.

    For the 2021-2022 school year only, parents or guardians have the right to opt for their child—
  6. for grades four through eight, repeat the grade the student was enrolled in during the 2020-2021 school year; and
  7. for courses taken for high school credit, repeat any course in which the student was enrolled during the 2020-2021 school year.


Significant Disproportionality Requirements

Under 20 U.S.C 1418 (d) and 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §300.646, states must provide for the
collection and examination of data to annually determine whether significant disproportionality based on race or ethnicity is occurring in the State and local education agencies (LEAs) with respect to three areas.

State Definition of Significant Disproportionality

The State has the discretion to define what constitutes significant disproportionality for the LEAs and the State in general. However, the State's definition of significant disproportionality must be based on an analysis of
numerical information and may not include consideration of the State's or LEA's policies, procedures, or practices.

The Texas Significant Disproportionality Regulation Crosswalk lists elements within the federal regulations and corresponding actions that define significant disproportionality in Texas. Texas applies the methods found in 34 §CFR 300.647 and exercised the flexibilities found in subsections (b) and (d) of the regulation.



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