A North Texas school district that has been at the center of several controversies in recent years is facing five investigations from the Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Civil Rights over its accommodations for students with special needs.
Two of the investigations originated from a dispute between district parent Jennifer Schutter and the former principal of Durham Intermediate School in Southlake.
Schutter told WFAA that her son attended Durham and had special needs. In 2021, after the boy sustained an injury on campus, she reportedly discovered that the school did not have federally-required special needs accommodations or an individual educational plan for its special needs students.
“This has been an ongoing issue for all of the special education parents,” Schutter said.
She filed a grievance with the Carroll ISD school board against the principal at the time. Ten days later, the principal emailed Schutter, notifying her that he had reported her and her husband to Child Protective Services over “truancy” issues.
“I knew it was retaliatory,” stated Schutter. “People can lose their children. We could’ve lost our son.”
Schutter explained to WFAA that her son and other special needs students regularly miss parts of school days over the course of any given semester so they can receive private therapy and see their physicians. She claimed that the school board was familiar with this dynamic.
Still, the school board refused to act on Schutter’s allegations of retaliation.
“I was frustrated because I felt like we as a family had done everything that was possible, everything that was available to us to make sure that my son was safe in school,” she said.
Schutter ended up filing at least two complaints to the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, alleging civil rights violations.
“The federal government probably represents our best hope. I’m also hopeful that the TEA will get involved,” Schutter told WFAA.
The Carroll ISD school board responded to news of the five investigations in a statement:
“Carroll ISD is fully cooperating with this process and diligently pulling all documents requested. [Office of Civil Rights] complaints involve student situations; therefore, due to the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act … we are unable to provide or share any more specifics at this time.”
Despite the district’s alleged failure to provide federally-mandated accommodations for its students with special needs, it has academically excelled beyond public school districts in the rest of the state, especially when compared to failing Dallas ISD.
Carroll ISD received an “A” accountability rating from the Texas Education Agency, with an overall scaled score of 98, in its 2021-2022 school year. It can also boast a whopping 100% on-time graduation rate for the 2022 graduating class.
Dallas ISD managed a “B” rating with a scaled score of 86. Additionally, nearly 20% of its 2022 graduating class did not graduate on time.
We just gave up an pulled our son from Lewisville ISD over the same type of issues
Schools need to accommodate special need students. This sounds like communication issue however since Carroll ISD is tax payer funded they are obligated to when applicable meet that students needs. If this story is reported accurately school needs to be more sensitive to the parent’s situation regarding special needs students.
Comparing the school’s TEA accountability rating to that of another school district is not relevant to this issue. The alleged civil rights violations aren’t related to the quality of education, but rather the lack of accommodations for children with special needs. If a comparison is to be made with another district, that is what should be compared.
I’ve heard it time and time again that Texas educational system leaves a whole lot to be desired! Even the university students don’t measure up to other states academically. Sad from the greatest state!
I’m on yr 2 in the state and have an honors student who received a national award last year and the district treats him and his needs as if he just jumped over the border and can’t even read. It’s not Carroll ISD but so far this state has been a dump only 2nd to Kentucky. I’ve lived in a few states and this one is by gar the worst. The district..the worst amd ot hasn’t been from the teachers but the ones above everyone making the rules.
This is definitely a violation of several laws. I’m glad the parents know their child’s rights and the schools responsibility to have appropriate accommodations. NO PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT CAN IGNORE A 504 OR IEP PLAN. TEA! PERIOD.