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Trasell Underwood

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Trasell is an Austin, TX mother of an adopted son who is attending Austin ISD. She is also serving as the Vice President in Austin’s largest labor union, Education Austin. She worked for Austin ISD for 12 years, as a special ed TA and later an Attendance Specialist, before her work with Education Austin. Her son Terrion was diagnosed with ADHD by an independent evaluator when he was entering PreK 3 after noticing his level of energy and lack of attention was too extreme. Terrion could not sit in circle time, he constantly was on the move and seemed a little behind the rest of the students in his class. Austin ISD did their own testing, concurred with the independent evaluator, and decided Terrion was to receive services starting in PreK 4. According to Trasell, things seemed to have been going smoothly with Terrion’s IEP and the services and attention he was receiving.

In September 2019, Trasell attended his annual ARD meeting so the sped teacher, reg ed teacher, principal, evaluator, and counselor could conduct his re-evaluation with the end of October 2019 being their deadline. When the end of October came and went, Trasell called to ask when Terrion’s meeting was scheduled for and was told that the evaluator had quit. It was then agreed that the deadline would be extended to November. Just before Thanksgiving, Trasell contacted the school again to check on the re-evaluation meeting and was told that they were still looking for an evaluator. She agreed to extend the deadline to December. Just before the district’s Holiday Break, she called the school again and there was still no meeting date set nor had Terrion been tested. Trasell called and made many requests for a meeting through the months of January and February of 2020. In March, the pandemic hit and schools shutdown. During this shutdown, the school contacted Trasell because Terrion’s annual became due, so a meeting was conducted without an evaluation. Terrion is past his evaluation date by a year and half. His last evaluation was done when he was exiting Pk 3, he is now in the 2nd grade. Feeling frustrated that she did not have the luxury to keep Terrion home during this pandemic, she sent Terrion in for F2F learning for fear that he would fall even more behind. The frustration on Trasell’s part grew and in a monthly meeting she attended with the district administration, she discussed with the Special Education Director the issues special education teachers were having, in particular a lack of evaluators. She was told the re-evaluation could be overdue and all attention was going on initial evaluations. Austin ISD was losing LSSPs and other evaluators by the dozens. Meanwhile, Education Austin were organizing all LSSPs and sped teachers to speak out to board members to fund the department better.

Texas has done a horrible job in years past and only this past legislative session did they decide to fund education fairly, but special education seemed to not get the level of attention it should. The state of Texas had to be sued for under identifying and for its lack of attention to that department, but it is not just a Texas issue, it is a federal government issue. Trasell joined this movement so she could help bring more attention to the issues in special education. She wants to fight for the parents and employees who cannot speak out as well as for her son, who deserves the best services that the district, the state and the federal government will provide.







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