North Central Austin Edition | April 2023

News from Austin ISD EDUCATION BRIEFS AISD faces TEA oversight due to special education concerns

HIGHLIGHTS AUSTIN ISD Less than a week after finalizing a superintendent profile for Austin ISD’s hired search firm to use in finding a full-time leader, trustees voted March 30 to slow the search and extend the contract with interim Superintendent Matias Segura to June 30, 2024. Trustees have not provided a new timeline for a full time replacement. “WHAT WE NEED FROM THE STATE IS MONEY—MONEY TO FILL THE POSITIONS TO SUPPORT OUR KIDS IN THIS DISTRICT.” KEN ZARIFIS, EDUCATION AUSTIN PRESIDENT, REGARDING THE STATE’S PROPOSED CONSERVATORSHIP IN AUSTIN ISD QUOTE OF NOTE

AUSTIN ISD On April 17, Austin ISD officials announced they would challenge the state’s decision to install conservators—or state-ap- pointed individuals with binding decision powers—due to concerns with the district’s special education evaluation backlog. What’s new: AISD requested an infor- mal review by the Texas Education Agency’s plan. If the TEA assigns a conservator following that process, the district will have an opportunity to file a petition for review with the State Office of Administrative Hearings, AISD Board President Arati Singh said. How we got here: If a family believes their student may have a learning disability, they can request an evaluation through the district. The state mandates how quickly the district must complete each step in the process. A TEA report found BY AMANDA CUTSHALL & DARCY SPRAGUE


Austin ISD is facing possible state conservatorship over its backlog of special education evaluations.

More than 4,000

evaluations and re-evaluations were overdue as of March 20. 1,808

evaluations have been requested since January. 1,263

evaluations were completed between May 2022 and March 2023.


Austin ISD experienced significant delays and failed to meet the timeline in dozens of cases. Austin ISD interim Superintendent Matias Segura said several issues led to this: • During COVID-19 virtual learning, the district could not conduct evaluations. • Only 21 of AISD’s 72 positions for special education diagnosticians were filled as of March 31. There are only about 250 people licensed to provide those services in Central Texas, Segura said.

Quote to know: “This would not be a takeover of the school district as is currently happening in Houston ISD,” Singh said. The plan: The district is considering significant wage increases for these positions as part of its 2023-24 budget, Segura said, along with: • Up to $20,000 in annual incentives • Centralized evaluations tracking system • Help from outside experts • Committee of board leadership to monitor progress


Austin ISD will meet May 18 at 6 p.m. 4000 S. I-35, Austin

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