Is the school board allowed to do this to my child?

I have a 15 year old daughter with down syndrome. She goes to a mainstream high school, never been to a special school, and will always be part of the mainstream society. She's going into grade ten this september, and last week we were picking out courses she wanted to take together. Previously, she's only taken English, Social Studies, and electives that interested her. She been studying Math and Science at home with me, because she needed to learn things at a slower pace, and school environment was not suited for her. So when we were picking out courses, my daughter asked me if she could take Introductory Business and Economics, Careers Studies, and Home Economics (Cooking). So I told her of course she could, and faxed out course sheet to the school. Yesterday, we got a call from the principal. He said there was a problem with out course sheet. These were the problems. First, he said if it is really necessary that my daughter stays at his school. Grade ten is a transitional year for all students, and course material starts getting a lot harder, including previous courses she's taken at school, like English and Social Studies. He said, quote, You daughter will not be able to handle the course work in all academic courses. These course curriculum are designed for people without special needs, end quote. Then he told me that for the course Career Studies, only 4 spots were left. He suggested that I let a regular student take the remaining spots. He said since my daughter won't be active participant in most course work, he would appreciate it if I let a "regular" student take one of the remaining 4 spots. He said my daughter would not be able to take Home Economics because the course deals with sanitary and safety issues, and teamwork would be needed. I said, great, it would give her a chance to make more friends. He said he does not want a special need student working with fire hazardous objects, like ovens. He suggested something safe, like art.He said in English, my daughter would without doubt fail the course. He asked me, would she be able to understand and analyze Shakespeare? Can she write a poem? Can she write an essay all by herself? How good is her reading comprehension? All these questions were being asked, and I could not help but break out in tears. Here was a principal, and educational figure, basically telling me to de-enroll my daughter from his school because of her conditions. I'm so disappointed, once more, in mainstream society and by how they treat many people like my daughter.

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17 Responses to “Is the school board allowed to do this to my child?”

  1. isistrl says:

    No. This is discrimination 101.I had a stroke when I was 8. Since my i.q. is 140, I thought that people would respond to my g/t intelligence. I had an i.q. test and scored very high on it. My parents were amazed. I even tried to sign up for g/t class. I experienced opposition similar to what you and your daughter had to endure.Insist that she get a good education. I would even recommend that you file police charges against the man for discrimination. Nowhere does it say that she HAS to accept what the principal deems necessary for. At the very least, report the son-of-a-b**ch to the superintendent of Education for discipline

  2. predestined says:

    Canada is much more aggressively positive about mainstream education than the US (inclusive education.) Saying that, this principal seems to have his head in the sand.There are 4 spaces left in Career Studies – she is entitled to enroll in one of them. In point of fact, she did, there are only 3 spaces left. Career studies should be a class that is designed to address the needs of individual students to find their best career path. Ideally suited for your daughter. Talk to the teacher if you have any concerns. DO NOT back down.Unless your daughter has a history of not dealing with her environment in a safe manner, she is perfectly entitled to take Home Economics. This is frequently a class kids with disabilities are pushed into whether they want it or not. Talk to the teacher and see if the teacher has any concerns. DO NOT back down.As for English, I would take his remarks under consideration. I don’t know your daughter, so I don’t know what she can accomplish. I do know that my son with Down syndrome would be overwhelmed by a typical English class – even with accommodations for his disability. Is your daughter capable of reading and understanding Shakespeare? Is there an alternative elective English class more suited to providing her accommodations that could serve as her English credit.What is your goal in having her attend school? Is she going to get a diploma? Is the math and science you are teaching her at home qualifying her for credit? Might it be that you need to add English to what she learns at home and IN ADDITION to Home Economics and Career planning, maybe an art class would be a good idea. PERHAPS, it is time to re-evaluate your school plan for your daughter as the academics get more rigorous. I am NOT saying de-enroll her, but reconsider what value she gets from attending school and how best to provide her what she needs to be successful. My son was in inclusive education from K-12 and is now 27. From K-6 he attended the same classes as other kids did. He had an aide, and he received accommodations. When 7-9 school came and the kids chose individual classes, the classes he took became less academic. He took some remedial classes and some typical classes, but no math. Any math class offered was well over his head. When time for high school came, we dropped the math and English, except for one film class. There was a science teacher (taught human development aka sex classes) that welcomed my son in his classes and my son thrived in as the most knowlegeable student after taking it several times. As my son lives for politics – he did better than others in social studies. He loves to cook so he took home ec each term. His last three years of school were nothing like what a typical student took, but he took all his classes with typical students and enjoyed and learned in them. For my son the goal was to live the most typical life possible for a young man his age – and that was to attend the local high school every day.What do you want your daughter to experience?Go to the person higher than the school principal and demand that you be heard.

  3. stomach says:

    it sounds as if her functional level is pretty good? correct? she does have academic skills and is not in need of a primarily life skills curricullum?you need a balance…..she needs to be studying basic skills of reading and math at her level andbe included in courses that are more about ideas (science, history, electives)i think home ec is definately a good choice……and she can be easily accommodated by beiing in a group closest to the teacher or having an aide in the class… studies may be good too..even if she won’t have one of these careers..she may need services from the careers studied..and will better understand the role of the worker in that i don’t know about—i never took a business course and am not sure what the course entails…i’m in the US, but i know canada does have provisions for special educationthe principal should have a record of her skill level.the school should be providing instruction in all core classes…unless they are counting the home intsruction toward graduation (its possible) she should have appropriate classes in english, math, science, social studies..and any other core class required to graduate…this can include lower level math/english taught in a special ed setting and inclusion in the other classesand to the ignorant..the mainstream class requirements can be modified to be appropriate for someone with a disability

  4. proseminar says:

    This headmaster lacks the understanding that children with Down syndrome manage quite well in mainstream schooling, as your daughter has already proven, and it would be some what of a step back, to place her into a special school now. Home economics is an excellent course for your daughter as it teachers her, everything related to running a home, nutrition, planning and meal preparation, budgeting, safe handling of kitchen other house hold equipment, hygiene procedures within and around the home and personal hygiene etc, which will help your daughter become a fairly independent adult, if not totally independent. You could pose a question to the headmaster in regards to the home economics; Is he inferring your daughter is unsafe or lacks the ability to understand hygiene, safety & budgeting etc?As someone asked does she have a IEP? Having this should help your daughter get classroom supports if and where needed, also adjusting course content if applicable to a level where she can understand if needed too. Contact the local education board and ask for some assistance, and guidance on this matter, but you need to act fairly quickly. In the mean time make sure the headmaster accepts your daughters enrollment, so she does not loose her choices. If for some reason she is unable to do these courses, at a later date, the school can still fit a regular student in. You know your daughter better than anyone, and yes she may struggle with some of the topics she has chosen, and she may not pass, but she will have gained something out of the course. She has the right to do WHAT she wants, not some idiotic headmaster who obviously does not know that people with disabilities can and do achieve much in life, if their given to correct support. I have a close friend who’s daughter has down syndrome, and have worked with a few young people with Down syndrome, and they all did very well in home economics, one of them is living independently, with a little support from family and support workers.

  5. aureolas says:

    This is discrimination, plain and simple.”First, he said if it is really necessary that my daughter stays at his school.” This proves he doesn’t really care about your daughter’s ability to learn in the environment and do well within the class, but rather about the fact that he doesn’t like having to accommodate people with disabilities. An actual concern about your daughter’s ability to learn would involve setting up a meeting with the teacher and working out a way to make sure that her coursework can be adjusted if she has lots of trouble (for example, allowing her to watch film versions to aid understanding, reducing length of required essays, setting up a modified test schedule, etc.). The bad news is that the school is being a pain and you should look into getting a lawyer (there might be some who would help you for free or low cost if you applied). The good news is that it sounds like your daughter has a really good ally in you. It makes me really happy to hear how much you love and care for your daughter and how much you value her social equality.

  6. Loranthus says:

    I find it amazing that you would want to push this little dear on to do the hard work involved in course work and all that is involved in these exams. Please listen to the head teacher, the professional, the one who knows the pressure that exams bring to all students whatever their ability. Wake up and smell the coffee, your daughter has a mental disability and getting a bad grade at results day is not nice for the ego. Don’t push her, let her work at what she is capable off and no more.

  7. prebetrayal says:

    i would file lawsuit against the principal or something like that. i am going to into high school and my friend ben, who is both mentally (down syndrome) and physically disabled (he can’t walk), is going to be in three honor classes.i don’t think it’s fair when sh is above average and eager to learn is being asked to de-enroll.

  8. thinnest says:

    i wouldnt think he could do this, first its discrimination against your disabled daughter telling you she cannot be educated like a regular child. And for career studies first come first seve right, just because shes disabled a regular person should get the place? i dont thinks so. The home economics depends on what special needs your daughter has, if she still has logic and common sense (whick im sure she will) then why would she not be allowed to do it, she can take care of herself even having disabilities im sure. And for english, she pobably cant do all those, but thats why she wants do the course to learn these techniques, am i right? Your right an education figure like this deenolling your daughter because of her disabilities, its f****n disgraceful. Im from the uk, so i dont know the laws of education where your from but in the uk if something like that happened the principal would be in for a good hiding by the educational authorities. Get a second opinion from someone from the educational authorotties or a teacher from another school or something. Wish your daughter luck from me.

  9. trichoptera says:

    The English courses CAN’T be modified to accomodate her, so he may have genuine concerns, but it doesn’t mean she isn’t allowed to TRY. There’s always getting her into a special needs program as well. I know she’s used to mainstream, but it might be good for her to make friends with people who share the same ideas or have the same problems (like bullying or having trouble with the same things in the same subject.). As for career studies, I would ask if he’s discriminating against her by assuming she isn’t capable of holding a career… I have heard of people with mild Down Syndrom who have BACHELOR’S degrees. It takes longer, and they have to work harder, but it doesn’t mean they CAN’T. I think the fact that she wants to take the course is great!And art? Are they kidding?! They’re denying her a course that teaches a LIFE SKILL? They DO realise that special ed programs offer cullinary classes, right? And the teamwork would be educational to a “normal” student as well! When I was in college and taking a basic course (home ec- style to get me used to being in college since I was homeless at the time and trying to adjust after running away)… I was partnered with a boy who has down syndrome. Best. Partner. Ever. He kept up with everything just fine. Because of his dyslexia (I have it too, but mildly) and lower reading comprehension, I would explain the harder technical writings (and some were ridiculous.. simple things need not be made a doctoral science…) and he would cut things because I have myoclonus. I am “normal” but I still needed help with some things. Frankly, I think they could learn as much from her as she does from them. Frankly, I’d take Stephens advice legally and ethically, but I wanted to put in my 2 cents that the principal is a jerk. Your daughter sounds remarkable.

  10. malcomb says:

    I’d recommend going to the school board about this principal issue about belittling your daughter. Your daughter should have a fair enough chance to take courses within her high school as freely as she likes, just as her peers do. Whose to say she is not capable of doing something until she tries. I really don’t think this principal should be in this place, yes he might be concern of having to grade her and letting her try something different and if the outcomes is bad it would look bad on him, but right now it already looks bad for him because he is already assuming that one of his students is not smart enough to handle his curriculum. Go ahead and go to the superiors of the school board on this and file a formal complaint because this isn’t right. If you don’t get satisfaction, head to the commoners and after that the news and get a petition started. They are pretty much refusing her to allow her to prepare for life.

  11. warier says:

    No they shouldn’t. This sounds like discrimination to me. What I don’t understand is this, you said she is doing so well there at that school. Maybe he hasn’t looked at her grades and the work she has done. Sometimes they just the see label Down Syndrome and make judgements about the child or adult. I have what is called Mosaic Down Syndrome. I was in Special Education all through my schooling. In High School I was mainstreamed in regular classes along with my Special Education classes. I graduated with my class. B’s are not a bad grade at all. In fact, B’s are a passing grade. So I would suggest you stay the course and speak to your Superintendent of that school. Don’t give up!

  12. morris says:

    If you live in the U.S., there is the “no child left behind” act…lol. Sorry, I laugh because it is a joke in all. Normally when classes are too tough for a student, the school has to supply her with added help for certain courses. If the school is saying they can’t help her get the proper education she needs, then they have to pay for a private one that will. I learned this after my son started middle school. He doesn’t have down syndrome, but has many other disorders and learning disabilities. They ended up sending him to another school and they paid for it. Actually, my son ended up likeing the new school much better because he was able to make a lot of friends. I would request an immediate IEP and straighten this whole mess out. See if they can’t get her an aid to help her in these course selections. Doesn’t seem fair that the hold her disability against her. We try to teach our kids who have disabilities and who don’t that they can do whatever it is they dream to do as long as they work hard for it. Wish you the best.

  13. thornbill says:

    It would certainly seem unfair for this person to deem that your daughter will fail the course without affording her the opportunity to demonstrate otherwise. I can only assume that he may have her transcripts that may suggest as much. Even if that were the case, that does not mean she’d fail, or at least be without the potential to pass.You wrote, “he would appreciate it if I let a “regular” student take one of the remaining 4 spots. ” This seems dangerously close to discrimination, even if I remain impartial by being aware that I’ve not heard the principal’s side of it – for all I know, he really might really believe he’s doing what’s best (though I personally do not believe this to be true).Notwithstanding any special considerations your daughter may require, it is wrong not to afford her the same opportunities offered to everyone else. To do any less than that constitutes discrimination, and redress is available to you. This instance merits further investigation by the appropriate persons, and I urge you, therefore, to consult the Americans with Disabilities Act, and perhaps contact someone – even a lawyer if need be – to see that the ADA is upheld so that your daughter will will have all that she’d entitled to.As for, “He said my daughter would not be able to take Home Economics because the course deals with sanitary and safety issues, and teamwork would be needed.” The principal most certainly would need a reasonable cause to believe there is a safety issue here, and must justify working with others as not conducive to your daughter’s and/or other students’ well-being. The statement is otherwise inflammatory and would warrant further consideration by someone higher-up in the school district’s administration hierarchy.

  14. imitations says:

    how strong is her down syndrome?yes, i highly disagree on the subject of career studies. if she wants to do that, it is her right. sadly i have to agree on the subject of home ec, because it may be to the disadvantage of the other students, not only is it harder to work with a special needs child, it may be unsafe for a mentally challenged girl handle knifes and fire.

  15. steepnesses says:

    Gosh! That’s horrible, I never thought about it that way. There used to be a boy with down syndrome in my son’s class. I started a petition to get him out of the school because he could not control himself. I regret that now and feel like a better person.

  16. reasonings says:

    This has discrimination written all over it.You are her mother, you know her better than anybody on this planet, apart from herself. This headteacher has probably met your daughter a few times and that’s it. He probably has a pre-conceived attitude on people who have Downs Syndrome.Please take this further……..please, please do not let this lay. For every child and adult with DS who has ever been treated like this, you have to take it further.If you were in the UK, the headteacher would have been taken to court by now. I’m not sure of the laws in US but in UK, Disabled students are encouraged to be taught in mainstream education.Take it further, go to the school boards, go to the newspapers.

  17. bulldoggedness says:

    The following writeup assumes that you are in the U.S. If not please disregard! Has your daughter ever been tested for special education? Is she considered a ‘special needs’ child who might qualify for services under the Federal IDEA law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)? If so, she should have an IEP at once. An IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) is a team meeting that MUST be provided by every public school system in the U.S. on the request by the parent or recommendation by anyone from the school system who believes that a child may possibly qualify for and benefit from receiving appropriate special education services. If, on the other hand, your daughter is only impaired to a fairly minor degree and is accustomed to being in so called regular, mainstream classes, then the IEP can address that issue as well. As a former teacher I am also well aware of the fact that some parents, for whatever reason, sometimes do not want their child to be involved or identified with receiving special ed services from the school system. What I think this principal is saying to you is that he has some concerns that your daughter will not be fully successful in regular, mainstream classes like English and math, which, inasmuch as they must follow very rigorous curricular guidelines and state standards, CANNOT be modified to accomodate students with special needs. Unfortunately, he is probably telling you the truth about that, but he sounds very derelict in not suggesting an IEP, which he sounds like he is legally required to do under these circumstances, and which could develop an individual educational plan that would enable your daughter to be successful in the public schools and to receive a ‘free and appropriate public education’ (FAPE) which every child in the United States is entitled to receive under federal law! Let me know if you have any further questions, as I used to work with kids having special needs along with regular students in a public school setting, and I have some knowledge about special ed and the IDEA law.Good luck in the meantime!