Putting Education Reform To The Test

Read the Florida Department of Education’s Advice For Placing Students With Disabilities

Matthew Burpee / Flickr

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act lays out how school districts should place students. The "strong preference" is in general education classrooms, according to a Florida Department of Education memo.

Yesterday we told you about Henry Frost, a Tampa student with autism seeking to enroll in his neighborhood school.

The school district wants Frost to attend a specialized program at another school, his family says, and are asking him to take tests and provide evidence he can handle life at his neighborhood school before enrolling him.

Privacy laws prevent Hillsborough County school officials from commenting on Frost’s case. The district says it follows all federal and state laws for placing students with disabilities.

Below is a Florida Department of Education memo advising school districts on the requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The big highlight? There is a “strong preference” for placing students with disabilities in general education classrooms. And the burden is on the school district to prove the student is better served somewhere else — not on the student to prove they can handle the work or environment.

Attorney Ann Siegel with Disability Rights Florida says too often, school districts put the burden of proof on students and their family.

Parents feel “they (school districts) want my child to earn their way in,” Siegel said. “It’s almost a harder standard for a student with a disability.

“I wish it worked the way the law says, but unfortunately it doesn’t always.”


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