Putting Education Reform To The Test

Autistic Tampa Student Will Attend His Neighborhood Middle School

Henry Frost poses with law enforcement officers while protesting at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. The Hillsborough County school district agreed to allow Frost to attend his neighborhood middle school Tuesday.

After waiting 57 days since the school year began, Henry Frost will be able to cross the street and walk less than the length of two football fields to attend his neighborhood middle school.

Frost has been taking courses at home while engaged in a dispute with Hillsborough County schools over where he should attend. Frost took his cause to Facebook and other social media and has drawn world-wide attention.

Frost is autistic and has several physical impairments, including hearing loss.

After more than 14 hours of meetings to negotiate an education plan and services for Frost, Hillsborough school officials agreed Tuesday to let Frost attend the school of his choice.

“I will go to Wilson. Yes! Thank you and I will write more tomorrow,” Frost wrote on his Facebook page I Stand WITH Henry.

Hillsborough schools wanted him to attend a special program at Coleman Middle School. Frost, and his family, wanted to attend Wilson Middle School in his South Tampa neighborhood.

Frost doesn’t yet know when he can attend classes since the school district must hire an aide first.

His mother, Lauri Hunt, was surprised by the decision. The family had autism advocates such as Ari Ne’emen listening to the meeting by phone to work on Frost’s behalf.

But she was grateful the school district was insisting on services which included a 1-on-1 aide, that staff were trained how to use Frost’s special hearing aide and that Frost had access to a team of specialist in teaching students with hearing loss.

“I do think it’s going to be a better situation…because he’ll have the support he needs,” Hunt said.

Research shows both students with disabilities and those without disabilities learn more when taught in classrooms together.

In many Florida school districts, students with disabilities are grouped in programs specialized for their needs. Many students with disabilities find it difficult to attend charter schools as well.

The school district emphasized the general education classroom will be more rigorous, Hunt said. But she’s also encouraged by the support Frost received from their neighborhood.

“I think the kids are going to be awesome and I think it’s going to be challenging,” she said. “Henry said ‘I want the chance to try it.’


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