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I just read this article from a link on Facebook from Carter Hears! and had to start posting again. This is a report about a multiyear battle between a school district in Washington State and a student who is deaf and was denied so many rights as a student, but even more as a student protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The student, Jose Garcia, is deaf and according to a news release from his law firm, he was not taught sign languange and was essentially “warehoused” with other disabled students throughout his years at Grandview schools.
I don’t know this case. I don’t know this student. And I don’t like every statement in this article, but this is a victory. This student, who was a student in this Washington State district since he was in preschool, won his first court hearing against the district and won 6 years of remedial education. The District appealed and lost again in the County Superior Court. The district admitted all kinds of errors and falsehoods, but still appealed this second ruling. The Court of Appeals refused the accept the appeal. Then the district just refused to comply with the court’s ruling, which had been reduced to 4 years of remedial education. So a Complaint was submitted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction who had to threaten to cut funding for special education if Jose did not receive the 4 years of remedial education. Finally Jose began to learn.
It seems, from this article, that an assumption was made about Jose’s learning potential and then he was trapped for the rest of his school career.
“The District made the decision not to teach sign language to José starting in preschool. This decision was based upon the philosophy that all students should be “as oral as possible.”
Perhaps the District, like so many, say “We have one program here and we do __________ [insert ASL, Cued Speech, Spoken Language, Total Communication].” Students who are deaf and hard of hearing must be assessed based on their individual communication needs and the program should be created.
I know the first thought in yours, and in mine actually, is having programs that meet the needs of individual students is going to cost so much money! But it is time to think of new, out of the box, collaborative plans that better serve students. This kid won-not money but something that was better than money. He got remedial education, which is probably a tutor, meeting Jose on his reading level, working in his language, and providing intense vocabulary and language input. In those 4 years, Jose has progressed from a 2nd-3rd grade reading level (in 11th grade!) to now reading on a high school level! He won education, which will lead to employment, a higher quality of life, and the ability to be a productive, contributing member of his community. That is a win for everyone.