Texas Education Code - EDUC § 29.026. Grant Program Providing Services to Students with Autism

<Text of section expires pursuant to (o) >

(a) The commissioner shall establish a program to award grants to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools that provide innovative services to students with autism.

(b) A school district, including a school district acting through a district charter issued under Subchapter C, Chapter 12, and an open-enrollment charter school, including a charter school that primarily serves students with disabilities, as provided under Section 12.1014 , may apply for a grant under this section.

(c) A program is eligible for a grant under this section if:

(1) the program operates as an independent campus or a separate program from the campus in which the program is located, with a separate budget;

(2) the program incorporates:

(A) evidence-based and research-based design;

(B) the use of empirical data on student achievement and improvement;

(C) parental support and collaboration;

(D) the use of technology;

(E) meaningful inclusion;  and

(F) the ability to replicate the program for students statewide;

(3) the program gives priority for enrollment to students with autism;

(4) the program limits enrollment and services to students who are:

(A) at least three years of age;  and

(B) younger than nine years of age or are enrolled in the third grade or a lower grade level;  and

(5) the program allows a student who turns nine years of age or older during a school year to remain in the program until the end of that school year.

(d) A school district or open-enrollment charter school may not:

(1) charge a fee for the program, other than those authorized by law for students in public schools;

(2) require a parent to enroll a child in the program;

(3) allow an admission, review, and dismissal committee to place a student in the program without the written consent of the student's parent or guardian;  or

(4) continue the placement of a student in the program after the student's parent or guardian revokes consent, in writing, to the student's placement in the program.

(e) A program under this section may:

(1) alter the length of the school day or school year or the number of minutes of instruction received by students;

(2) coordinate services with private or community-based providers;

(3) allow the enrollment of students without disabilities or with other disabilities, if approved by the commissioner;  and

(4) adopt staff qualifications and staff to student ratios that differ from the applicable requirements of this title.

(f) The commissioner shall adopt rules creating an application and selection process for grants awarded under this section.

(g) The commissioner shall create an external panel of stakeholders, including parents of students with disabilities, to provide assistance in the selection of applications for the award of grants under this section.

(h) The commissioner shall award grants to fund not more than 10 programs that meet the eligibility criteria under Subsection (c).  In selecting programs, the commissioner shall prioritize programs that are collaborations between multiple school districts, multiple charter schools, or school districts and charter schools.  The selected programs must reflect the diversity of this state.

(i) The commissioner shall select programs and award grant funds to those programs beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.  The selected programs are to be funded for two years.

(j) A grant awarded to a school district or open-enrollment charter school under this section is in addition to the Foundation School Program funds that the district or charter school is otherwise entitled to receive.  A grant awarded under this section may not come out of Foundation School Program funds.

(k) The commissioner shall set aside an amount not to exceed $20 million from the total amount of funds appropriated for the 2018-2019 fiscal biennium to fund grants under this section.  The commissioner shall use $10 million for the purposes of this section for each school year in the state fiscal biennium.  A grant recipient may not receive more than $1 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal biennium.  The commissioner shall reduce each district's and charter school's allotment proportionally to account for funds allocated under this section.

(l) The commissioner and any program selected under this section may accept gifts, grants, and donations from any public or private source, person, or group to implement and administer the program.  The commissioner and any program selected under this section may not require any financial contribution from parents to implement and administer the program.

(m) The commissioner may consider a student with autism who is enrolled in a program funded under this section as funded in a mainstream placement, regardless of the amount of time the student receives services in a regular classroom setting.

(n) Not later than December 31, 2020, the commissioner shall publish a report on the grant program established under this section.  The report must include:

(1) recommendations for statutory or funding changes necessary to implement successful innovations in the education of students with autism;  and

(2) data on the academic and functional achievements of students enrolled in a program that received a grant under this section.

(o) This section expires September 1, 2021.


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