Alex’s parents have filed complaints with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office. Photo by Edward Brown.

By the time Alex was preparing to enter kindergarten, his parents began noticing quirks in his behavior. Though precocious and mild-mannered, Alex struggled to control his emotions at times. His parents, Angi Brookshire and James Thompson, suspected what was recently diagnosed: Like more than a million children in the United States, their son has autism. We are concealing his true name to protect his identity. 

The married couple was proactive, hiring an occupational therapist when Alex was 3 and notifying the staff at Alex’s school that their son may have unique learning needs. That was the fall of 2016. The parents never imagined Alex would be sent home 12 times his first year of kindergarten for behavior that Brookshire and Thompson said easily could have been handled at school if the staff had the proper training and adequate resources. 

“He doesn’t handle social situations well at times,” Thomson said. “But how is he going to learn if they keep sending him home?”

SMTX-FTW March18-300x250report by the social justice nonprofit Texas Appleseed found that children in Texas classrooms are pushed out of their schools at alarming rates, usually for “minor behaviors that should be addressed through school-based supports and interventions.” 

In the 2015-2016 school year, the report said, Texas schools issued 63,874 out-of-school suspensions to young children. Citing data from the Texas Education Agency, the report went on to note that Fort Worth school district policy allows for some of the “most vague and trivial” reasons in the state for suspending students. The school district’s policy includes “being disrespectful” and “violating safety rules” as acceptable reasons for sending a young child home. Last year, Dallas school district board members revised its school district disciplinary policy to address the issue by raising the threshold for acceptable reasons (bullying and fighting) to send a young student home.

Alex’s parents recently made the difficult decision to pull their child from the school and enroll him in a private school. Brookshire said she holds no animosity toward the school district, but she does want to ensure that other parents never have to go through the ordeal she experienced at the school.

“As taxpayers with children in Fort Worth schools, the district should respond” to our concerns, she said. “I can’t imagine what parents who don’t have the time and resources to deal with this would do.”


    • I’m so sorry. It has definitely been difficult and frustrating. For us, it was made very apparent that our son was not wanted there. I hope your grandson gets what he needs…..sooner than later.

  1. As a taxpayer I worry about the the other students How much of their education was disrupted.
    What did his doctors say? As a nurse I would think that would be the first place to go and not rely on the school or an OT. Next no need to file an Open records request
    Sec. 26.004. ACCESS TO STUDENT RECORDS. b (4) disciplinary records;All you have to do is ask
    All this should be recorded in background check reports “He doesn’t handle social situations well at times,” If a child is being sent home there is a major problem with him or her.

    • Trw, I understand the point you are making.  James and I are also taxpayers and our son deserves an education just like every other student at the school. We too want to know why he was suspended numerous times for issues that could have easily been handled at the school level. That’s why we submitted an Open Records Request AFTER seeking the information from the principal and school on numerous occasions with no response. As a taxpayer, I hope that you, too, would want the principal of your son/daughter’s school to produce detailed information on why he/she is being suspended.

    • Trw,
      Also, regarding your question about a doctor – and as my profession of a nurse – we were on top of that long before he started school. However, school systems conduct their own evaluation for the implements that are needed specifically for the school environment.