CONROE, Texas – People have been moving to Texas from all over the country, and the Kirch family is no exception.
They decided to relocate to the Houston area to give their three young boys a better quality of life. But now Peggy-Lynn Kirch says she is second-guessing their choice.
“No one is going to fight for my kids as I will, and no one knows my son the way I do. You wouldn’t look at him and say, ‘Hey‚ he’s a kid on the spectrum,’ you would look at him and say, ‘Hey, you know what? He’s a bad kid,’” explained Kirch.
Kirch’s son, Logan is four and he has been receiving behavioral, cognitive, and speech therapy since he was 14 months old.
“He’s a bright little boy but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need more support,” noted Kirch.
She says this support is something he needs but is not getting in his new school district. She completed all the necessary transfer paperwork which included a new evaluation, thinking there wouldn’t be an issue.
“They came back and said to me, ‘We found he doesn’t need occupational therapy. Nothing that you’re stating is affecting him in the classroom, we don’t see that.’”
“When he came into the state of Texas, they did a whole revaluation, and it was not done with fidelity at all,” explained an advocate for students with special needs.
Peggy-Lynn says the ARD Committee (Admissions review and dismissal board) did not take into consideration the past experiences he had in his current and past schools which includes behavioral problems and episodes in the classroom.
In 2021, the CDC reported 1 in 44 children will be diagnosed with a form of autism. In order for a child to get special education services at Conroe ISD, students 3 through 21 must meet certain eligibility requirements. Advocates say some of these school districts’ requirements don’t add up.
“There’s just a variety of eligibilities for autism, and I think the districts don’t really know how to service them in a proper way. So many times, we have to categorize them, and I think I’ve seen that across Houston districts that they’re wanting to set up more programs for autistic kids but then they are limiting them to a certain type. One thing Conroe does is they allow students to go to certain programs if they meet eligibility but they’re not opening the doors of those programs to all special needs.”
Peggy-Lynn was told by ARD that her son could do three, 20-minute speech classes per week. But she doesn’t agree with this saying it’s simply not enough. She says they did approve an outside evaluation which will happen sometime in January, and she hopes it will assist her in getting more services for Logan.
“It’s very surprising. I’m shocked. I’m sad. I’m mad. I’m angry, and I have a lot of emotions. It’s just not fair. It makes me sad that I ripped my kids from their family and from their friends to move across the country, and he’s not being set up for success,” explained Kirch.
KPRC reached out to Conroe ISD for comment but has yet to hear back.
You can make a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency about certain special education services. You can also request an independent facilitator for disputes relating to admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee meeting. There is also supplemental income available to families that meet certain requirements.
Family to Family Network, (713) 466-6304
The University of Houston has a Parent Education Project through its College of Education.
Families CAN provide a range of services to empower and support families who are caring for children with chronic illnesses and/or physical disabilities.
Family Partners are parent caseworkers who themselves are parents of children with special health care needs. They work one-on-one with families to assist, support, and empower them in getting resources for their children and to enhance their families’ quality of life.