Other Than That…

Published on April 21, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano

Maybe it’s just because it’s the time of year when I am attending several IEP meetings on behalf of my clients every week, but I am really getting fed up with school districts failing to identify children for special education services, just because they happen to be intelligent.

It is insulting, illogical, patently unfair, pedagogically unsound, and legally dubious.  Other than that, it’s just fine.

Like the kids who have been absent from school for months because their emotional disability prevents them from being able to attend school, but who do well on the limited work they do turn in.  “Other than the 47 missing assignments bringing down his grade, he would have had an ‘A’ because the 3 that were turned in were excellent.” Or the students with Asperger’s Disorder who achieve at or above grade level on standardized academic testing, but are unable to carry on a simple conversation with a peer.  “Other than the social skills piece, he’s doing really well.”

When I am contacted by the parents of these types of children, very often they are telling me that their school district will not identify their child as eligble for special education and related services because, they are told by the administration, their grades are good.

Wake up, school districts!  Education is far more than just academics.  Who cares what a student’s IQ and GPA are if they have not been prepared to be an independent member of society?   To suggest that the ability to appropriately interact with other kids and adults is not a skill that must be learned, and for some, taught, ignores one of the key functions of school.   To say that, “other than the 99% of the time that the student refuses to attend school, he is a good student,” is ludicrous, and yet I hear it all the time.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?