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Disabled Student Gets As, Dad Upset and Claims Grade Inflation

Disabled Student Gets As, Dad Upset and Claims Grade Inflation

18-year-old Jared DeWeese has received As in algebra, biology and world history but his father, Wes DeWeese, is displeased and has publicly criticized his son’s high school in Georgia. Jared, WSBTV says, has severe disabilities and is unable to walk, talk or read. Why is his father not cheering on his son’s accomplishments?

The reason, DeWeese tells WSBTV, is that Gwinnett High School is simply giving Jared the high grades to boost the school’s overall test scores. “My wife and I were pretty astounded. Glad he’s getting 90s and 100s. But he can’t do any of these. He has the mental capacity of a 6-month-old,” says DeWeese. There is simply no way, he adds, that his son (who was born prematurely) can do algebra.

In response, the Gwinnett County Schools says that it is following state guidelines for students with disabilities. Says county spokesperson Sloan Roach:

Schools have to offer access to regular education courses for students with significant cognitive disabilities. We take those courses you see other students taking and we adapt those courses so students with significant cognitive disabilities can have access to those courses.

Roach also says that grades for special education students like Jared are “based on participation with that curriculum to which they are given access.”

All of this sounds very well, but the “guidelines” Roach cites are actually extremely vague and possibly not in keeping with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under this federal law, school districts are required to provide students with disabilities a “free and appropriate education” (FAPE) in the “least-restricted environment” (LRE).

At issue is how “appropriate” Jared’s education is. Based on DeWeese’s disbelief at his son receiving high grades, it seems that the curriculum in Jared’s classes is not “appropriate” in view of his cognitive ability. Students with disabilities who qualify for special education services must be evaluated and tested to determine what curriculum is “appropriate.” It is not clear how, or who, decided that a student like Jared can take subjects like biology and what exactly he is being taught (i.e., given that he has physical disabilities, he is very likely not using microscopes or laboratory facilities).

Jared, according to WSBTV, is attending his district’s high school. One has also to question if that it an “appropriate” placement for him at all. Gwinnett High School may have simply placed him in a “special education” classroom that includes students with learning disabilities, ADHD and autism — students who may well have more academic and other skills than him. A placement in a school designed for students with disabilities would be more “restricted” in that Jared would no longer be going to school with “typical” peers, but such a specialized school might have a teaching staff and facilities to help with the skills he needs to learn such as communication and self-help skills.

There have been reports of individuals without speech and with severe disabilities like Jared being able to read and communicate by writing, and also to write poetry and even books. My teenage autistic son Charlie has very little speech and does not seem able to read but we always presume competence: it could be that Charlie can read but sees no reason to show us that he can. Certainly Charlie understands much more that is said by others than he can himself say; he immediately picks up expressions of anxiety, anger and emotion. (As a result, we have not said a single word about the Sandy Hook School shooting in front of Charlie.)

The Gwinnett County School District owes the DeWeeses a far better explanation of why Jared has received the grades he did. Rather than just making it easy on themselves and giving him As, school staff need to meet with the DeWeeses to discuss what would be an “appropriate” curriculum for him and then actually teach him what he needs to learn to best live and be in the world.

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122 comments

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9:28AM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing

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Jesus is God :D

1:16PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

While I agree that if you are behind developmentally,in a significant way,you should be placed in a special needs class.....I DISAGREE that someone who cannot talk/walk should automatically be placed in a special education class!..I know LOTS of people with severe forms of CP and other disabilities who,while they may not be able to talk or walk,still have the capacity to think/understand and are at a normal level developmentally.
Also, now most times,a teacher can appoint a special aide to help a student with special needs,throughout the day...so that the teacher his/herself does not have to take away from his/her time teaching the rest of the class.
Special needs students NEED the interaction with non-disabled students in order to thrive..it does them no good developmentally and even socially to constantly be put separately in a group with solely other disabled individuals...sometimes with no stimulation whatsoever.

8:13AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

why is this student in a regular school anyway?

4:37AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

Inculsion to me,,should be decided on an INDIVIDUAL basis,,I have worked with very low cognitive kids for 20 years,,,,NONE of them were capable of addressing regular curriculum,, no matter HOW it is modified,, ALL would need aides to deal with Short attention spans and other behavior needs..these students were integrated at recess and lunch with regular kids,, assemblies,, etc

My son has cognitive difficulties and went through the special education,, IF they had forced him to go to regular classes I WOULD have pulled him out of school and called a due process hearing,, TO me it is far more degrading to be sitting in the back of a high school class doing 1st grade work with an aide,, then to be in a class of his peers where he can feel at least equal and successful..

I do sub aide work now which puts me in a lot of regular classes,, with the common core,,and testing stresses,, those teachers are already stressed to the max,, the majority do not want yet more students who take away from the time needed to teach an almost impossible curriculum to diverse students,I do not see full inclusion as a solution or benefiting anyone.

12:06AM PST on Jan 5, 2013

I am a 38 year old woman,disabled since birth(Spina Bifida/Hydrocephalus). I have always been fairly independent and have a high IQ. While I agree that severely disabled students should not be in a regular CLASS,I believe they still benefit from being in a regular SCHOOL! They get the social interactions with "normal" kids,and as a result feel less "left out/awkward". I spent 4 years in a special needs/integrated school,and while we had classes that were mixed with disabled/non-disabled students,I was often bored because I was at a different academic level (higher) than most of the disabled students in my class. When I went to "regular" school,I was happier,as I was being challenged academically.
Also,I am hoping they are not just assuming what his level of intelligence is! I had a cousin who had CP and was severely disabled,yet,he went all the way to university and had a degree in Psychology. Just because you cannot communicate properly, it does not always mean that your IQ is that of an infant or toddler.

9:46AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Dorothy - sorry I can't give you any more stars. You know - that one a week thing, duh!

For this week already, I've fouled up trying to award you 4X!

3:28PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

(continued)

Special needs students have special needs - if the wealthy and corporations would pay their fair share of taxes and living wages and be restricted to the same level of influence as are regular individuals, rather than distorting policy to suit themselves and sucking tax-payers money out of the system and away from essential programs, these programs could exist, adequately staffed with appropriately trained people, and the increasingly intolerable load placed on schoolteachers,. limiting their ability to effectively do the original and essential work in educating children capable of coping with the curriculum, could then be reduced.

I'm sorry, but this senseless practice will be doing no good to the child and potentially a great deal of harm to all involved.

3:26PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

I'm with several of the other posters who've pointed out that someone who's 'severely disabled', 'unable to walk, talk or read', and having 'the mental capacity of a 6-month-old' should not be in regular schools.

In order to prevent money being spent on programs appropriate to and for such severely disabled children, teachers are expected to cope with a situation they are neither trained for nor traditionally expected to deal with - along with now being told that they should be armed and (inadequately) trained for SWAT/body-guarding activities - on top of a high workload, while having typically over-sized classes and being criticized by certain interests for not being 'good enough' for even the often relatively low pay they're getting.

Teaching is a specific career with multiple facets, requiring different training, skills and attitudes in different areas - why should school teachers be expected to magically be Super Wo/Man?

Perhaps because this is still thought of a 'woman's work' and extraordinary competence in multiple areas is both expected and disparaged as such?

Special needs students have special needs - if the wealthy and corporations would pay their fair share of taxes and living wages and be restricted to the same level of influence as are regular individuals, rather than distorting policy to suit themselves and sucking tax-payers money out of the system and away from essential programs, these programs could exist, adequately staffed with appropriat

2:58PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

This child has been receiving SPED services for his entire school career, and dad or mom has attended at least one IEP meeting every year to discuss his classes and what services he receives. Why wait til he is 18 and finishing school to make a fuss? This looks like someone trying to find a way to make some money. It is despicable for him to complain now after signing off on what the IEP committee decided for years. Stealing money from the school because you see it as an easy mark hurts kids. This guy wants press.

10:23AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Strange that a school should act that way.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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