DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas students with disabilities could receive $1,500 from a new state program to help pay for tutoring, therapy and even computer expenses.
The Supplemental Special Education Services program, paid for from money from the federal CARES Act, is aimed at helping Texas students most affected by the COVID-19 shutdown.
When schools were forced to go online last spring, many students fell behind – none more so than students with special needs, like PJ, a 10-year-old student in Carroll ISD.
PJ is legally blind and has motor and speech delays.
“It’s been a significant struggle ever since the schools closed last spring, both academically and socially,” said his mother, Jennifer Schutter. “A lot of kids, my son included, have had significant regression.”
To help students with disabilities, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new program that would give eligible families $1,500. The money can be used to pay for tutoring, therapy and technology needs. It is not supposed to replace the special education services and resources schools are required to provide.
Texas secured $30 million for the program.
That’s enough to help 20,000 students but, according to Disability Rights Texas, there are nearly 600,000 special needs students in Texas.
“This small amount of money, going to a small group, is certainly helpful for that group but we need to see a plan that is based in the schools that addresses the needs of all students in special education,” said Kym Rogers with Disability Rights Texas.
Students with low incident disabilities are eligible for this program. This will leave out many students with emotional disorders, dyslexia and moderate autism.
Parents of special needs students say every penny helps but add this program alone fails to come close to making up months of lost education.
Schutter said, “We need to dedicate the resources, the staff, and the time in order to give back six to nine months of education that were lost. And, at least in my community, I haven’t seen any serious efforts to do so.”