The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires each state to “establish and maintain an advisory panel for the purpose of providing policy guidance with respect to special education and related services for children with disabilities in the State” [Sec. 300.167]. In Texas, that is the Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education, or CAC. The Texas CAC is made up of 17 members who are appointed by the governor and meet approximately four times each year in Austin. The majority of CAC members must be individuals with disabilities or parents of children with disabilities. They are responsible for advising the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on matters relating to Special Education such as unmet needs and policies related to services for students with disabilities throughout Texas.
The general public is encouraged to participate with CAC by presenting public comment at CAC meetings or submitting written comments to the CAC. CAC meeting minutes and upcoming meeting agendas can be found on the TEA website at Continuing Advisory Committee Meeting Dates, Notices, and Minutes. To keep you informed, we have included a summary from their last meeting below and more information on our website.
CAC’s Last Meeting
Nov. 10, 2020 (on Zoom)
* Updates from TEA included: the resources TEA has supplied to local education agencies relating to a COVID-19 website, an autism training, a resource to tiered interventions using evidence-based research, and TX CAN; updates related to the latest communications from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) concerning response to corrective action notification; discussion related to questions about Supplementary Special Education Services (SSES).
* Discussion, recommendations, and possible action on their 2021 Legislative Report including: full and individual evaluations; mental health; data privacy; and, staff qualifications.
* Public Comment: a representative from Disability Rights -Texas presented questions about the SSES program including concerns about funding and data privacy. He also included comments about systemic practices in TX related to denying special education services which should be addressed.
* Recommendations for the CAC 2021 Legislative Report included taking action related to Person-Centered Planning and further training of substitute teachers due to teachers not returning to classrooms due to COVID-19.
The CAC’s next meeting is scheduled for February 21, 2021. The agenda is pending, but based on the Nov. meeting minutes, topics will include updates from TEA on special education topics including SESS and remote learning as well as updates on special education bills in the current legislative session.
Submitting Public Comment to the CAC
from the CAC website
The CAC meets approximately four times each year in Austin, Texas. The public is welcome to attend the meetings. The committee encourages public participation by
- including a public comment period at meetings;
- receiving written comments from the public; and
- convening meetings that are accessible to the public.
Below are the procedures and general guidelines to speak at a CAC meeting.
- Individuals who wish to provide public comment must sign up to speak by completing an information card at the location of the meeting between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. the day of the meeting.
- Each speaker will have a maximum of three minutes to speak, and speakers will be heard in the order they sign up. Individuals who wish to provide written comments to the CAC during the meeting should bring 17 copies of the written comments to the CAC meeting so that they can be distributed to the committee members.
- The public comments period will take place after lunch to give ample time for visitors to sign up to speak and will last no more than 30 minutes. As many speakers as possible will be heard within that period. The CAC chair may ask individuals who wish to speak on the same topic to consolidate their comments.
- A speaker who signs up by the 11:00 a.m. deadline but is unable to speak because of the 30-minute time limit will be given the opportunity to speak first at the next meeting.
To learn more about the CAC, visit their website here.