The Austin Chronicle

DADS: The Next TYC?

By Richard Whittaker, August 15, 2007, 1:08pm, Newsdesk

It's aways nice when the Lege gives the press pack a heads-up on what the next big scandal will be. Most people were caught off-guard (but not surprised) when the Texas Youth Commission turned out to be the debacle it did last session. But now the first order of business for '09 seems to have arrived: the systematic abuse of some residents in the state school system of homes for people with profound mental and educational disorders, run by the Department of Disability Services.

Last Thursday, with little fanfare, Speaker Tom Craddick put out a press release stating that he would "continue to monitor the Texas State School system." The system, he said, had become an "interim priority" – Lege shorthand for "well, we know what we're going to have to fix next session."

The House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics Committee is already working with DADS and Family and Protective Services, and there's an interim improvement plan in place. But they'll need it. After a truly horrifying US Department of Justice report on the Lubbock State School and some damning reporting by the Dallas Morning News, the magnitude of the scandal is becoming clear.

But here's the kicker: Craddick say that "it is my intent to make the issues of State Schools a priority for consideration as an interim charge so that any new policy recommendations might be made available for the 81st Legislature." Which is odd, because the DoJ report was lodged with Rick Perry on Dec. 11, 2006 – before the 80th session.

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