Last week, in “The school did nothing and they gave me Aâ€™s,” I asked readers to advise “Adam,” a high school junior in southern California with good grades but poor English skills. A blog reader who’d corresponded with Adam via e-mail described him as bright and hard-working, but not prepared for college. I assumed he was a good student with a weakness in English, perhaps because it was a second language.
When Adam joined the comments, I learned his problems are much more serious. None of his A’s represent academic achievement, he writes. Adam had been placed in all special education classes in middle school, but was mainstreamed at Nogales High in the Rowland Unified district, which is east of Los Angeles. In his own words:
When the first REPORT CARD came it was all â€œAâ€s. My mom ask every teacher how is Adam getting an A if he was just taken out of Special Education classes.They reply as while as Director of Special Ed at Rowland distict said â€œWE HAVE BAD STUDENTS, WE GRADE ADAM ON ATTITUDE NOT ACADEMICSâ€.
All my teachers never thought [taught]. For English all he did was fight with the bad students and he even threw a chair one time, he always cuss.
Foe History all he did was put rated â€œRâ€ movies on and sleep in class.
For math she said am passing Adam because he a good student, I have to many bad students. For science I got an â€œAâ€ for selling candy and watching a goat, he never thought [taught].
MY MOM TOLD EVERYONE SHE WANTED ME TO LEARN AND BE PUT IN CLASSES THAT WILL HELP ME. THe school said â€œSO YOU DONâ€™T WANT HIM WITH A HIGH SCHOOL DIAPLOMAâ€. My mom said yes but the importance is I am learning not the diaploma.
. . . I have not even pass my CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMINATION.(CAHSEE)
A reader asked if he’d tested out of special education and urged him to hire a lawyer. Adam answered:
No, I did not test out of Special Education. On my state testâ€™s I get FAR BELOW AVERAGE. And in all my classes I get â€œFâ€s on my test and work, but they still give me an â€œAâ€. I ask my teachers why are you giving me an â€œAâ€. They reply we donâ€™t have time to see if there right only if you did it.â€WE GRADE ADAM ON ATTITUDE NOT ACADEMICSâ€
No my mom or I did not want this change. The school said we have bad students and Adam is a good student.
Adam has one meeting a year on his Individual Education Plan (IEP) and is assigned to one special education “resource” class.
But that is not helping me because the teacher is never going over class subjects. She is always on the phone or the computer, all she does is put movies on. At my IEPâ€™s the school yells at me saying I am lieing and they donâ€™t beleave me. And that I do bad on the state test on purpose. (I do not I do my best, because I now college look at the scores).
Adam appears to be caught in a Catch-22: His eagerness to learn means there’s no need to teach him. He’s written letters to the superintendent and the state education department, succeeding only in branding himself as a troublemaker.
Miriam Freedman, a specialist in special education law, (see School Law Pro and her blog) told me Adam can sue the school for failing to provide “a free and appropriate education.” She suggested he check out the WrightsLaw site. Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates is another resource. These sites have a lot of advice for parents who can wade through legal and education jargon in order to serve as advocates for their children or those who can afford to hire a lawyer or trained advocate.
Again, if readers have advice for Adam and his mother — especially if you know lawyers in the Los Angeles area — please let me know. This young man wants an education.