Family of disabled student files complaint against New Hanover Co. Schools

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Submitted: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 5:30pm
Updated: Wed, 03/07/2012 - 2:04am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For the second time in the last month, a family has filed a civil rights complaint against New Hanover County Schools.

New Hanover County Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday says complaints filed with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Right (OCR) are fairly routine for school districts. He says NHCS receives five or six each year. He says what’s not routine is how the two most recent have been handled in the media. Dr. Holliday says the school district never sees OCR complaints. Instead, he says OCR usually sends a letter alerting the district to the nature of the complaint and often asking for data. Holliday says OCR then handles the investigation and follow up.

According to the group NC Fear Free Education, the family of a child enrolled in the school district filed a 98-page complaint yesterday with OCR. The complaint, the group says, chronicles specific incidents of discrimination listing times, dates and witnesses to the events.

“The reason we filed this Office of Civil Rights complaint is because our child is entitled to, under federal law, a free and appropriate public education just like non-disabled peers,” a parent of the child, who wishes to remain anonymous, said in a statement. “This means that our child is entitled to participate with non-disabled peers without being excluded from school functions, field trips and curriculum.”

According to part of the complaint released by NC Fear Free Education, the family says the boy was discriminated against for various reasons, including allegations that teachers did not follow his individualized education plan, accommodate his needs by using assistive technologies, not providing homework, excluding him from a field trip and even making fun of him.

Dr. Holliday said because the district has not received any information on the complaint and because of privacy laws, the school district cannot comment on this specific complaint.


  • Speaking Out Knowing the parent & the child says:

    Specifically A: the child is not retarded. He has autism, B. He is Not a behavior problem either. He is a loving boy. C. The reason the boys parents filed this complaint was because the school who, by all accounts had an autism program @ roland Grise did not include this child in specific events. These events include but are not limited to: A teacher decideds it is not necessary to send a science & social studies book home becasue they have “decided” what the kid could learn even though @ previous school & current school he is fully functioning inside of the classroom in the general ed curriculam and yes that includes a book! He may need assistive technologies to access other parts, but is able to do the work just like your “typical” kid. This child IS NOT a “behavior” problem in school so let us take that off of the table right up front. Another thing was this child was not given the same oppritiunites to participate in Feild Trips, excluded fro sceince fair & a culture project just becasue the staff was either too lazy to have him do so, or because they just didn’t care either way still is wrong

    Put yourself in the childs place..lets say your “normal” child came home and said the teacher will not let me go on a feild trip, or have a book, or what have you…wouldn’t you be mad too? after all this is what this family has been saying, and this child deserves an education…

    whoever said that these children are always a disruption & shouldnt be in school…let me say knowing autism and knowing this child..behavior is not an issue…I don’t know what TV shows you have been watching, but not all kids who have autism are “retarded”, a disruption, or a “behavior problem” these statements leave sterotypical behaviors to autisitc children.

    Many of us pass kids with autism on a daily baisis and you don’t know who they are becasue they act and seem just like your typical kid…

    Kudos to the family for filing this office of civil rights complaint..for those of you who don’t know…this is not a suit in court this is investigated by the federal government who ensure that schools who get funding for providing the services to the kids with a disibilty does so under the law. These parents are trying to make a change for their child & other children.

    Just FYI: Kids with disabilities are allowed to play football, and other extra curricular activites just like your “Normal” children…

    Just because these kids don’t think like you don’t make them just makes them special..special enough to think out side of the box..after all many of the greats in life had disabilities & changed the world…do a google search for infulental people who have/had autism…you will be amazed..ignorance is the biggest disability I see that has a cure….

  • opinionman says:

    Heres what you should do. Pull him out of the public school system and place him in a more appropriate school setting. Expensive? Yes, but we all must make sacrifices for our children. To continue to send your child to a school were he is tormented by others is just cruel. And to justify it by saying “our child is entitled to, under federal law, a free and appropriate public education just like non-disabled peers” does not make it any better. The fact is that lots of little kids are mean to each other. From making fun of the fat kid or teasing the kid who smells funny..that has been going on since kids were invented. The best you can do is realize that your child is going to be a target for the many a-hole kids and try to protect him from that. Get him out of the public school system. Make the financial sacrifice. My child’s district school is terrible so we bit the bullet and sent him to a private school. It has made a lifestyle changing impact financially on our family but it is the right thing to do for our child. But maybe with all of our tax money you hope to receive in your bs settlement you will do that.

  • ledzepp says:

    And where do you get Special Needs from this? (he is Disabled does not mean Special Needs, and a IEP is just to make some Accommodations for a Disabled person and it is Federal Mandated they receive an IEP if they wish to have one.

  • PITA Mom says:

    I am glad for you that you can afford to send your child to a private school. If we were able to send our child to a school for children with special needs, it would probably cost upwards of $40,000 per year. If the school in question wrote an Individual Education Plan for this child, they are supposed to follow it. If they are not, the parents have the right to challenge the school. I imagine that they have been working with the school for a long time to get this worked out long before they were forced to sue. I do not have an extra $40,000 per year to send my child to a school for special needs. but I do imagine that if the school puts its mind to it, they can make this child’s experience a good and meaningful one for him AND the other students as well.

  • Gris says:

    Many are suggesting that segregating disabled children to private schools would be preferable, but many things which seem as if they should work in theory do not work in practice. Private schools and segregated classrooms are statistically the most dangerous, even deadly for the disabled population according to the GAO and other reports of child injury and death due to institutional mistreatment. Private schools and classrooms are where most of the severe abuse takes place, most likely because 1) the number of silent witnesses among children, or 2) children whose testimony could be discredited due to serious diagnoses, and 3) the insular culture which forms in institutions that lack the “check and balance” of having the eyes of credible witnesses upon them.

    Many private schools form cultures unto themselves where ethical and humane boundaries gradually erode. Many sociological studies have been done on this issue and the findings are universal: without oversight and in an environment where authority conveys and justifies flexible ethics, the majority of people may quickly become capable of atrocity.

    Some private schools are very good but this is actually much rarer than it should be. Of the thousands of deaths of the disabled due to institutional abuse, the majority have occurred in private schools, segregated classrooms and institutions. The only answers to this are to federally ban certain procedures outright, maintain vigorous enforcement against abusive practices including a simple process of recourse for complaints, integrate children as policy unless medical conditions make this unhealthy for the child and put cameras in every school and on school transportation with cell phone access for parents. This way everyone is kept honest and both staff and students are protected from spurious allegations.

    Only in an environment of zero abuse would it even be possible to take data on the overall behavior profiles of the disabled child population. Abuse is so rampant in schools and so clearly capable of escalating behavior problems among children that there’s a chicken and egg issue in determining how much of a “problem” integrating disabled children really presents.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    Look, the point here is its disgusting to think those who think “its not my problem…it’s not my kid” is wrong. The parents lacked no judgement, they are standing up for education for their child. Society is not perfect but these are children just like any other and they deserve a chance at public education. I’m not saying their should not be special classes when some circumstances dictate, I’m not saying that they need to be on the football team or be an ace at advanced trig, but come on! Enough with blaming the parents! IT could be you some day.

  • Beach Bum says:

    Since, the child is not capable of having a rational thought or the inability to render a conscious decision for him or her self by law, who exactly is to blame for the actions of said child or involving said child? The parents or his or her legal guardian.

    So, once again, we inconvience the masses to satisfy the wants of an individual. Clearly, there is a I in team somewhere. Team is rhetocial for society, in case anyone needed it spelled out.

    I do have one question for the parents that are just looking out for the interest of their kid…

    Since their belief is that they are looking out for the well being and want what is in the best interest of their child, why the anoynmity? I mean, if they or you really believe in the rhetoric your or they are spouting, why not put a name and face behind your ideals so we know you are truly committed, and not just looking for ten minutes in the spotlight? Show the rest of the world you got some moxy behind you and not just libelous accusations. Be the example for others to follow in your fight against all the injustices of the world against special needs children.

    Unlike most, I never thought about having kids as a solution to a failing relationship. I never thought having a child as a tax break. I looked at having kids as a life long commitment and a responsibility that is and should be weighed considerably when having those kinds of ideas or thoughts bouncing around. Oh yeah, you don’t have to be a parent to know the difference between right and wrong.

  • Beach Bum says:

    I never made fun at the handicapped child. As a matter of fact, I even ecouraged that he be placed in a special needs class where the attention is undivided to the handicapped children.

    If you are asking me to be tolerant of the lack of judgement on the parents part for making a poor deicision to bring attention to their plight, then yes. I am not tolerant of that bullshit. No one should be.

    So, I challenge you. WHY should I, be tolerant of those who can not perform to the same expected performance level that I am expected to perform to? They have gender, sexual orientation, special needs and racial norming on all levels.

    Tone done the sensitivity and tone up the common sense. It’s called natural selection for a reason.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    YOU WON’T RUN ME OFF THAT’S FOR SURE…Most people leave here because they are tired of the bleeding heart rude yankees that have moved here. Too much tolerance is what has ruined this country.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    Do you know why it is hard to find many people from Wilmington? I will tell you, it’s because we are running you off! You make me sick. The only thing ruined is having people like you around with zero tolerance for anything different. Its not about one kid, its about them all. Black, white, asian, smart, special needs, blind, deaf…you name it.

    Ruined…you make me sick.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    That is exactly what I am saying if your child cannot behave then he should be left behind. Why does he need to be included in something that will ruin it for everyone else. Maybe he misbehaves because he was not taught to behave at home and just plainly babied too much.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    What medical school did you attend? Do you have any background on special needs attention and childhood education for children of special needs?

    I hope someone leaves you behind, we don’t need any more southern close minded, stuck in the past. A child with down syndrome or autism may be acting out because of his mental condition. Does that mean he should be left behind? NO! He needs special attention maybe that doesn’t come in the same room every time with a able bodied child but you can’t just cast him out. Maybe if the able bodied children we’re taught TOLERANCE and educated on how to act and interact with special needs children you would find everyone benefits in the end.

    But since your a “native” of a demographic that only rescinded segregation 50 years ago, I’m not surprised you want to leave the special needs children behind.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    Whats frivolous about it? The parents just want their kid not to be put in a corner and treated like a freak. No one is asking them to make the child play quarterback on the football team or to be the lead in the school play, they just want the other kids not to treat him like a reject and give him a chance to try to learn. No one expects the child to invent the next fuel for cars or how to get to Pluto, but have a little consideration for the disabled.

    I’m sorry – I respect your opinion that there is no responsbility for the school to bring the kid up to the level of the others, but its a little rediculous to think the child cant at least be in the same school with the other children, don’t you?

    Or are you one of those who pointed and laughed at the child with down-syndrome and called him a retard? I bet you were.

  • warriormom says:

    Wow – it is because people who think like you that people who are differently abled face discrimination in his world. How would you feel if it were YOUR child or better yet YOU? Would you like to be in a special class or not work because you were in a wheelchair? Would you be okay to not be able to work in your job tomorrow if you were suddenly in a wheelchair? I find your mode of thinking archaic – just because someone is different does not mean they need to be segregated.

  • PITA Mom says:

    I do not, in a million years, expect my youngest – most effected child to do the same things as his classmates. I do, however, expect the school to make every possible accommodation they can to include my child with his same-age peers and include him in a way that is meaningful to him and his peers, he has the right to his education just as your child has the right to his. He should have every opportunity to participate as the other children in his class. This is called life. There are going to be more and more of these kids and they will grow up to be adults, and we need to learn from one another so that we can all have a better future.

  • challengethewolrd says:

    Well spoken. This is exactly what every child deserves.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    is retarded, that’s they it is. Put them in a special class and be done with it. Other kids education should NOT be ruined by your child..quit trying to be so politically correct. If they are not normal so be it. Some of you parents kill me with your it’s all about my kid attitude..guess what it is NOT.

  • Guest111 says:

    Teachers have their hands full with their classes. They have to control unruly, barbaric and aggressive students while trying to teach others. This is not a place to have a child with special needs. Teachers are not super human. They have their hands full on a normal day.

  • Das Weibstück says:

    When I was in school they were all in schools for the disabled, they were not mainstreamed. It worked because the staff and teachers there were trained to handle the kids and didnt have the distraction of 40 other non special needs kids.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    Just how can you reasonably expect everyone to have to have their experience on say an outing or event to be interuppeted by some child that cannot behave their selves? If they cannot behave themselves then YES they should be left behind. That is just as unfair to the other kids as it is to your child. Face facts everyone is not the same never have been, never will be. When I went to school they had schools for kids with mental and physical problems, seemed to work then..why change it. Every parent wants their kid to be perfect but realize they are NOT. You cannot force other people to always be politically correct some people tell it like it is, sorry if it hurts but that is life. Teachers are there to teach and not be some kids one and only support group, there are others also that need attention.
    Children that run around like they are on speed and cussing out teachers and parents are not ADD OR AHDD or whatever the correct term is it is because they are not taught right and wrong from the first place and made to mind and act with some sense. It stems from BAD parenting, period. We never had kids act this way when I was a child because we had parents who would NOT tolerate it.

  • PITA mom says:

    ILM Native,
    I am wondering if your comment is for real. I feel very sorry for you that you should judge a child and their parents so harshly. I do not think it is all about my child. But if your “neuro typical” child or non-disabled child was left behind from a school function or field trip on a regular basis and the school gave you a reason such as “Johnny just doesn’t behave well outside of the classroom setting” (for example),”so we decided he can’t attend these events.” wouldn’t you make it YOUR business ? Wouldn’t you work with your child, his teacher, and the school to find a way to make it work? Or would you just say, “yeah, you’re right, he’s too much to handle outside the classroom. Go head and leave him behind.”. Because it seems like that’s what you’re saying. And I’d like to think that you would care about your child more than that. And you would keep working towards a solution until you found one. And if you had to file a complaint because you’d tried everything imaginable, you’d probably do that, too.

  • Guest7969 says:

    what you get in a ME ME ME society where only I matter…

  • Das Weibstück says:

    The parents have a hard time accepting that their kids are not able to do all the things an able bodied kid can do. Until then there will continue to be these frivolous lawsuits.

    How do they think it will be out in the real world? These kids are not suppose to be able to do everything an able bodied/minded kid can do, they are special needs. geeez

    Yeah they have the RIGHT to a free education…. ALL KIDS DO, NOT JUST YOUR SPECIAL ONE.

  • Beach Bum says:

    Another example of bad parenting. It is not the kids fault for being handicapped. It is not the parents fault for having a kid that is handicapped. What is the parents fault and their lack of responsible parenting to think that their kid is entitled to function with non handicapped peers.

    Obviously, their kid is going to require more attention than that of a non handicap child. Because of that obligation, that will detract attention given to a kid who is not handicapped. Why not be responsible and place your child in a special needs program where said kid can get the required attention that he or she so deserves, instead of trying all of our patience with your stupidity or ignorance or greed.

    Pesonally, I feel examples like this is why breeding should be state regulated and not a given right.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    The only parenting problem I see here is that your parents never taught you the lesson about tolerance also that science sometimes produces children with special needs. You more then likely were taught to put them in a corner and laugh at them…

  • Guest1022 says:

    Looks like the State is way way too late.

  • Disabled says:

    I have to say your a dumbass, Someone in a wheelchair does not mean he needs to be in special classes, your saying hey your kid is in a wheelchair, he will never achieve anything. i mean really, look at stephen hawking he is in a wheelchair but he is a very smart man. Special Needs programs are for kids that are mentally disabled not for kids that can function in Society and just need accommodations, go look up some information, your ignorance amazes me

  • Challengetheworld says:

    Under-Funded Public Education systems do not have the overall training and educational background to deal with children with disabilties. The surrounding peers are also not taught the respect to teach children with disabilities by both educators and parents. Therefore, these children are often put in a corner and excluded. They are tormented, laughed at and treated sub-human. I’ve witnessed this happening and was disappointed each time. I’ve always wished I could do more.
    Its wrong, its in-humane and often illegal. Until the schools are given the resources and funding to deal with extra need and disabled children, this will continue to happen.

    Unfortunatley, in this state and several others in poorly funded education systems the parents should persue the complain and remove their child from this school and seek private schooling.

  • Guest22222 says:

    Snipes Academy did it again

  • Guest1946 says:

    Maybe home schooling would be the answer for this boy. Everyone is not equal, I don’t care what political correctness says. Would you want a blind school bus driver? How about a fireman or police officer that is confined to a wheelchair? There are things in this world that are beyond our control and cannot be dealt with by denying there is a problem. Sounds like it is more about a fast buck than the child.

  • challengetheworld says:

    A blind bus driver and a child that needs to get an education whom has special needs aren’t even in the same ballpark. The child might need some special attention but doesn’t mean he needs to be completely segregated. No one is denying the problem! The parents are trying to find a solution!

    Why don’t you take your fast buck and buy a ticket the …. out of here.

  • Elizabeth S says:

    There is no money to be made by filing a complaint to the Special Education Department of a school district, trust me, been there done that. It is just a big pain in the butt and very stressful for the parent who is going through the process of fighting for a child’s rights. The comparisons you make about “blind bus driver” and police officers in a wheelchair are insulting and not even close to good comparisons. How would you like it if your son’s assigned kindergarten class went to the zoo and the teacher just forgot to invite your child because he was in special education classes most of the day? It happened to mine and I was very angry about it. These parents have a right to do what they are doing and they have a right to be angry about their child not getting the same benefits as other children.

  • teachernomore says:

    So glad I am no longer a NHC public school teacher…..or teacher in any public school. It’s parents like these that take away from the hard work and dedication of the majority of teachers. It’s very discouraging when a teacher is in the trenches and feels she/he is in a losing battle. No matter how hard an educator may work, one constantly feels they are under unjust scrutiny. Glad I got out when I did.

  • A Concerned Parent says:

    I am glad you got out too. Our kids will not benefit from your attitude. You did them a favor! Thank you!

  • Compassion please says:

    For the love of everything decent – where is the compassion for one another?

    Unless you walk in another’s shoes, please take pause to understand, without the need to understand.

    We could all learn from one another.

    Do unto others, with kindness, compassion and understanding is a great starting place.

  • Gris says:

    My late father was wounded in WWII. Seeing some of these comments, he might as well have put up a welcome sign instead of fighting.

    Eugenics actually started in America and England but went into an embarrassed silence after the truth about the Holocaust emerged. Still, the systematic murders of disabled children and adults which actually acted as a build-up for the death camps was kept very quiet for decades in the US, partly to tamp down disclosure of American involvement in the philosophical underpinnings of the view and eugenic practices in American institutions.

    Seeing these calls for segregation is very retro– one of the first thing the Nazi psychiatrists did was to isolate the disabled and remove services, herding the disabled into segregated institutions. At first removal from society was really the point, but then the evil progressed. It’s so easy to do away with human beings who aren’t integrated into communities. No one knows them, no one cares, and this is what happened. Interestingly, even loyal Nazi party members were unwilling to give up their disabled children to the killing centers, so the program remained far more covert than the death camps throughout the war. Even Hitler was embarrassed.

    What’s lesser known still about the period is that the rate of disability had risen very sharply prior to the war as Germany became the chemical production capital of the world. Brand new disorders sprang up along with brand new chemical compounds. Science had caused this rise and then science was responsible for quarantining the blame for it on the disabled population itself. But there’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic as the saying goes– false genetic theory was simply a means to generate public consent to get rid of the collateral of technology. That kind of monstrosity is very hungry though, and as the high school text books tell us, soon no one was safe. Things seem to be moving in that direction in the US.

    The really ironic thing about the current epidemic of child disability and all this monkey noise about “breeding” and burdens on society is that it may not necessarily be genetic “weakness” which leaves the children of some families vulnerable to the effects of environmental toxins. Boys with high testosterone, children with higher IQs seem to be particularly vulnerable to toxic brain damage. It probably relates to the doubled rate of allergies among children with high IQ (the brain and immune system compete for metabolic fuel) and male vulnerability to certain forms of oxidative stress and stroke. Autism may relate to anaphylaxis and autoimmunity, as does asthma, diabetes, peanut allergies and a slew of other modern disorders.

    By 2030, I have to wonder if there will be a single American left in team sports- we’ll have to import them. Never mind our institutions of higher learning. Might as well start outsourcing universities now because the severely disabled are only the warning flare. The generation under 18 today faces unknown health consequences, even the “lucky” ones who show less effects now. Massive rates of rare cancers? Prostate cancer at 25? Heart disease at 30? Alzheimer’s doubling every 20 years? Mass infertility? And what about the offspring of the current generation? There are epigenetic effects from certain exposures that can show up in later generations.

    So the reason we care for the disabled and the reason we teach typical children that they must be tolerant, inclusive and humane– aside from the fact that to do otherwise is a guaranteed descent into a dangerous, undemocratic society which will eventually devour everyone– is that society created most of the disability that currently exists. The way out of the dilemma is not to stuff the collateral under a rug or blame defective genes and “breeding” but to find the environmental causes and stop the trend. The scapegoating and abuse of the disabled is a kind of crutch, a bad money after worse effect to avoid facing what’s really happening.

    People can run from this but they can’t hide. No goofy Mayan Armageddon necessary– autism and other rampant disorders are harbingers of something worse to come. Wake up and work to solve it or move out of the way.

  • Guest parent of 3 says:

    I hope you are running for school board. The way the schools discriminate against kids with a disability is only a reflection of the ignorance witnessed here in the comments. An 8 year old girl just died for pete’s sake because the school cut corners and didnt provide a bus monitor that would have saved her life.

  • sandy says:

    I keep seeing the words private school. Do you know how much a private school for children with learning differences, or special needs costs? Most start at $16,000 and go up from there, and please keep in mind we spend a fortune already each month on therapies and medical. Why do you feel it’s your child’s right to a good, free education, but because my child is disabled then I better fork out some money to give him the proper education he deserves or at least shut up about the fact that he is not being treated equally at school. Heaven forbid your typical child loses their legs and is told they are no longer ALLOWED to participate in PE because they can’t keep up or go on a field trip because they don’t have a lift for the bus. Make sure to tell your child too bad, they shouldn’t have lost their legs and because you can’t afford a different school, she’ll just have to deal with it, and sweetie, if you don’t like being made fun of, then you shouldn’t be different or find another school. If we as adults can’t figure out how to treat our children equally, how can we expect our children to treat their disabled peers equally. At least now we know where they get it from.

  • Beach Bum says:

    Stephen Hawking being a smart man is a matter of opinion, regardless of him being in a wheelchair. Your inability to utilize common sense amazes me. Again, not the kids fault for being a retard. Not the parents fault for having a retard for a kid. I even endorsed putting the retard in a special needs class so undivided attention could be given to him.

    If I am expected to perform at a certain performance level, why should I be tolerant of those that are “given” a break? How is that fair to me? Where is your tolerance for those that don’t want to get to know you or be your friend or those who do want to be tolerant of those that are given a break, just because?

    Here is a wild idea, why not keep the blacks with the blacks, whites with whites, yellows with yellows, pinks with pinks?

    Look how orderly and proficent that looks. And there is no confusion.

    Again, breeding should be regulated, not a right.

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