Texas Shuts Down State Schools

A man with down syndrome.


A man with down syndrome.

by Gigi Allen, Staff Writer

Texas has been addressing their status on state schools, facilities that specialize in taking care of the needs of disabled individuals. Recently there has been a push to shut down state sponsored facilities and private communities and moving the disabled children into group homes.

Sure Texas will save money, about $97.9 million by 2020, but it’s not worth the price of the care that these individuals need, or their lives. A man with autism, Jared James, was shot and killed by a home owner after escaping his group home that he had been moved into. The owner of the home was unaware that the young man was not a threat. Yet James, who was only 24, was killed on site. The workers in charge of James did not know how he escaped the group home.

In state schools there are doctors and trained workers ready to help the patients, patients such as a man who has to be turned over every two hours or else he will have bed sores and a breakdown of his skin. If Texas takes away group homes, the doctors, staff workers and even just the familiarity to the patients will go away. To these patients it’s as if it’s their senior year at high school, and they had to move to a different school in a different part of the state, where all new people are surrounding them and with worse conditions then their last school.

The state says that the state homes are not up to par with safety regulations for the patients but yet its the families of patients who live there who are fighting to keep the facilities open. But a notice of eviction went to 77 residents in the Austin state school even before the legislature to shut down the center in 2017 has been decided on. The families are not taking this sitting down though. Examples of fighting back are seen even in the result of law suits, filed by Stephen Wallace and Dr. Forrest Novy so their relatives will be able to stay in the facility.

In group homes, money is tight with an average budget of $247,147 for just 8-12 children. The workers are not trained and there is not a group of doctors ready to help the patients like there are in a state home. Money is the driving force of this whole operation, the state saying that the Austin center does not have a justified reason for continuing with only 3,650 patients. The state provides state schools like these with an annual budget of $661.9 million, which is a tight amount of money for the facility. If the states school’s budget is tight to give all the care these patients need, then the small amount that a group home has isn’t enough for half of the necessary medical care that is needed.

The problems that come with group homes number up, from inadequate care, to untrained workers and phenomenally low budgets available. A national average spent on a patient is $121, while Texas spends $39 per person. There are 4.3 million Texans suffering some mental disorder and yet Texas is ranked 49th in Mental health spending. Cutting the state schools will just drop Texas off the map. It is not the answer. Group homes are not enough to care for the disabled in Texas, if everything in Texas is bigger, then the state can do better, and state schools are better.