BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — The Association of Brownsville Educators submitted a public comment at the Brownsville ISD school board meeting on Tuesday stating that the district is violating special education laws.
“They are punishing the students that are choosing virtual instruction,” said Ida Abeldano, a staff member for the Texas State Teacher’s Association in Brownsville. “Which is a right that they have.”
Section 504 is a law in the Department of Education that protects the education rights of students with disabilities.
“That even during this pandemic all students are receiving a free and appropriate public education—FAPE—this includes all students who are virtual,” said Veronica Borrego, the president of the AOBE.
Section 504 was created in 1974 and requires that all students with disabilities have the same opportunity to participate in federally funded activities, even through distance learning.
Borrego is also a special education teacher and said that she has received phone calls from concerned parents and teachers regarding STARR test preparations.
“This ‘STARR camp’… it was just like a module computer program; a lot of the kids were not even with a certified person,” said Borrego.
Borrego reports that the “STARR camp” is sometimes monitored online at some campuses by paraprofessionals, not certified teachers.
“However, the students in the school [that are] face-to-face were receiving full-on instruction,” said Borrego.
The TSTA said that at some campuses, they have started taking away elective classes for those students who are not going to in-person learning.
“They’re not allowing them to participate in their elective classes, such as music, P.E., library, art,” said Abeldano.
Some schools practicing this are Stillman Middle School, Thomas W. Keller Elementary School, and Stell Middle School, according to Abeldano.
Abeldano added that Homer Hanna Early College High School will only allow students with a certain amount of in-person days to go to prom.
TSTA and AOBE said that they have not been received a response from the district, but BISD sent KVEO the following statement. The statement did not address the specific concerns from the teacher’s association or TSTA.
The Brownsville Independent School District supports all student learning whether with face-to-face instruction or virtual learning. Extended day services at Brownsville ISD have been provided to all students – at all levels.
The district ensures that all students have the accommodations and modifications that are required for students with such needs. Brownsville ISD, like every district in the state, complies with state and federal mandates and requirements to meet the special needs of all our students.
Brownsville ISD wishes our students the best during state assessments and finishing the year strong. We thank our staff, parents, and community for their support and cooperation during these difficult times.BISD Spokesperson