Sunday, August 4, 2013
An Idaho teen with Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, lost a federal jury trial last month on his ADA and Section 504 claims against the Boise and Meridian school districts. Matthew Abramowski, now 19, claimed that the districts failed to provide an appropriate education and did not protect him from bullying. Abramowski's school district terminated his IEP when he was in eighth-grade after deciding that he no longer needed services. In 2009, the then-15-year-old set his house on fire, an event that Abramowski's parents say arose from their son's frustruation with isolation and bullying in school. (After pleading guilty to arson, Abramowski was sentenced to six months detention and ten years probation.)
A federal jury deliberated about 6½ hours before finding in favor of the school boards. After the verdict, Abramowski's lawyer, Charlene Quade, said that the applicable law is complicated because 504 is "a discrimination statute, a civil rights statute, and it involves intentional discrimination or discrimination otherwise shown by deliberate indifference." U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Candy Dale presided over the trial in D.A., et al. v. Meridian Joint School District No 2 et al., 1:11-cv-00119-CWD (D. Idaho). Read more at the Idaho Press-Tribune.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Below, I reprint an op-ed by John Merrow (Education Correspondent for PBS NewsHour) that never made it to the mass media, or more accurately, that newspapers declined. This is not an endorsement of the views in the editorial, because I do not know first-hand if the numbers reported are correct or fairly-presented. (Merrow goes through the stats school by school.) I reprint it here because Merrow's editorial illustrates a tragic flaw of the school accountability movement: the blame game. In every system under reform, the first attack is usually upon the people who are the least-powerful (and therefore most vulnerable) in that system--and the scenario in D.C. is no different. In the education system, the people with the least amount of power are the students and teachers. Teachers are easy and visible targets. The invisible victims are the students who are being educated in rigid, teach-to-the-test education accountability systems.