Parents of Pearland ISD express concern over district management of special education students

Special education advocate Karen Cunningham (middle) as well as Kelly Rhame (left) and Heidi Simpson spoke at a press conference on August 4 about their concern over Pearland ISD’s support for students at the special education. (Andy Yanez / Community Impact Journal)

A group of parents and a special education advocate gathered on August 4 in front of the ISD Pearland Administration Building at 1928 North Main St., Pearland, for a press conference to address what they called “blatant behavior” on the part of the school. district relating to special education for pupils.

Special education lawyer Karen Cunningham and two PISD parents she represents spoke about their concerns about the support the district provides to special education students.

“This district is not the district you want to be in if your kids need extra help with their studies, behavior or language,” said Kelly Rhame, one of the parents represented by Cunningham. “This district will spend tens of thousands of dollars advocating for their agenda rather than helping your child read.”

According to Cunningham, there are at least five due process hearings pending at PISD over the next few months. A due process hearing before a judge is an option parents can take if they disagree with a school district’s assessment of their child’s special education needs, Cunningham said.

Cunningham and his clients said the district was guilty of several shortcomings, including failing to provide teachers and staff with appropriate training to deal with students with special needs; lying to parents about the processes, faculty and special services available; and deny services to students who potentially need special education services.

In a statement to Community impact journal, the district said it was aware of the press conference hosted by Cunningham and his clients, but could not go into details due to ongoing hearings before the Texas Education Agency.

“We are confident that the facts will come to light during the court proceedings,” the district said in the statement. “Despite what may have been implied at the press conference, Pearland ISD and the special programs staff have been and remain committed to meeting the needs of students receiving special education services.”

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