In late August, Texas Education Agency officials tapped Justin Porter, formerly the TEA’s executive director of special populations, to serve as the agency’s new statewide director of special education. Porter will be the first person to hold this position within TEA in more than nine months, and the hire comes on the heels of a federal investigation that found state education officials were capping the number of students who could receive special education services within a district, effectively denying thousands of students in need of special education services.
According to the Texas Tribune, “Porter will be in charge of a more robust department developing policies on how to use state and federal special education funds, and reaching out to state and local groups advocating for kids with disabilities. He will report to a yet-unnamed deputy commissioner of populations and monitoring, who will report to Penny Schwinn, the chief deputy commissioner of academics.”
Porter’s role becomes even more important as the TEA is now facing budget increases of nearly $3 billion over the next three years as the state works to provide special education services to all students in need.