This is, to my knowledge, the first lawsuit that involves Common Core as a participant. In this instance a child in Alpine School District who is very bright and academically advanced, was prevented from advancing to his appropriate skill level and has been psychologically damaged as a result of the public education system’s insistence on pounding square pegs into round holes to make all children common. Common Core hurts children both at the upper and lower end of the learning spectrum by forcing them to advance at the pace of the group. It is true conveyor belt education in the worst possible way. In speaking with Dr. Gary Thompson (this family’s psychologist) and Ed Flint (their attorney), about their 45-page petition filed with the court, Common Core’s top down, one-size-fits-all approach to education is a firm part of the educational system that prevents gifted and special needs children from getting the educational experience they need. This is precisely what has happened in this case. Although the petition never mentions “Common Core” by name, Dr. Thompson explained that it absolutely plays a part in how the system prevented this child from advancing to an appropriate skill level since he was far beyond the course work being presented to him.
To protect the family’s identity, they will go by Mr. and Mrs. T below, and their child, his teacher, and school are unnamed. Comments by me are in italics below. There is far too much to include in this post so I have included highlights from the petition, but cannot tell the whole story.
The petition contains:
- Allegations of sustained emotional abuse towards mother and 11-year old son.
- Allegations of retaliation for exercising parental right of participation in Public School
- Allegations of retaliation for utilizing professional help linked to “Anti-Common Core” advocacy.
- Allegations of unethical and invalid use of psychological testing to conform to predetermined outcome.
- Allegations of ignoring parent’s desperate pleas for assistance for son.
- Allegation of callous attitude towards parents as exhibited in 50 pages of “obtained” Alpine District inter-office/district emails.
- Forwarding files/petition and evidence to Utah Attorney General’s Office for investigation.
- Civil Suit for Tort damages pending.
- Obtained District Email Thread over past 8 months.
- Allegations that Alpine School District violated FERPA by losing this child’s entire cumulative file and failed to notify the parents.
The below items appear in the actual petition except where noted. The numbers below are reordered for this post.
1. “Child is the son of Petitioners Mr. & Mrs. T, currently residing at ______., ______, Utah, where child is an advanced gifted student at ______ school, assigned to the 7th Grade…..”
2. “Within 30-45 days of child’s new assignment to Mrs. _____’s classroom, the parents respectfully and professionally advised, in writing, child’s teachers and counselors of serious concerns with his behavior, attitude and apparent boredom with the schoolwork he was assigned. No attempts were made to determine whether child might have developed an emotional disability that might be affecting him, as required by Child Find. 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(3)(A). (Exhibit P2, Emails from Mrs. T to teacher dated January 27, 2013 and teacher’s response dated 1/29/13)….”
3. “Problems and contention quickly arose with teacher. Mrs. T and teacher kept in regular contact through email, and although teacher engaged in some unprofessional name calling (Referring to child as “The goof” (see Exhibit P3, Email dated March 22, 2013) and assumptions of laziness based on failure to turn in assignments, there was no attempt to seek testing or evaluation of child to determine if there was a learning disability or mental health issue that might be affecting him, as required by “Child Find………”
(Oak Note: Later in the petition I found the disturbing email the teacher actual wrote (in part) to Mrs. T referencing her child: “The goof either did not do or can’t find the homework I gave him to do last night. Nothing. Aargh…Just letting your know.”)
4. The dialogue continues: “January 29: Email to teacher. My first concerns that child was not doing well in school. In the email I am sending is my original email, her response, and my reply back. February 4: Email & Subsequent meeting with teacher: Child missed the deadline of a major project. She starts saying things I feel were a personal attack against child, “He’ll learn, eventually, to look up at the board and understand that the things up there actually apply to him.” In this email she states sometime soon she will give him phone numbers of classmates to ask questions. She has a rule in her classroom kids are not allowed to ask parents for help, only peers.
5. Petitioners sought out tutoring from the school to help child with Math as he was not turning in assignments and grades were slipping. The Tutor worked with child a few sessions but told Petitioners that child had no deficits. Teacher asked that child seek assistance from his classmates rather than a paid tutor.
6. A long string emails between the parents and the school highlight the extreme concern the parents had about their son’s growing and observable anxiety, sensory, and depressive symptoms, and the school’s increasing contempt with the parents for questioning their contentions that “nothing was wrong” with child. Email communications between the administration, teachers and special education staff detail the shocking arrogance of a public school administration dead set on convincing the parents that “nothing was wrong” with their son.
7. As child’s symptoms and behaviors became more frequent and severe, Petitioner Mrs. T. attempted to solicit assistance from school Vice Principal, Mr.____, and recalls this interaction, “November 5- The night before child had his worst and longest meltdown. He was kicking, screaming, and throwing things for 4 long, horrific hours. He had a very hard time waking up the next day from pure exhaustion and I brought him to school late. I walked into Mr. VP’s office and told him child was “in crisis”. I used those words exactly I explained the situation. I told him that child was diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder, that he was not challenged at school and that it was causing problems at home. I told Mr. VP I needed to get an IEP or 504. He told me child would not qualify for either one because he has good grades and is ahead of his grade, not behind. He told me we were lucky that child was so smart, but he would check with the district and let me know what resources they have and he would get back with me that day. He took down my number and never called. From this meeting I had no idea of child’s rights to be considered for an IEP or 504.”
8. Mrs. T. persisted with an email on about November 6, 2013 where she checked back with Mr. VP. He responded and said he was waiting to talk with Mrs.____ the “Gifted & Talented” Coordinator, about our situation. He said we could request a 504 (not an IEP because he wouldn’t qualify) but the chances were slim he would get one; despite being rebuffed, Mrs. T decided to be proactive and contact the G&T coordinator herself, anticipating that surely a gifted and talented specialist would understand her child.
9. Petitioner Mrs. T attempted to solicit any help or intervention on behalf of child by visiting with G&T coordinator of Alpine District on about November 18, 2014. She describes that meeting, “November 18- My meeting with Mrs. G&T did not go well. As soon as I walked into her office I could tell she had something to prove to me. I told her my son had Asperger’s and was suffering from things such as being able to ask teachers for help. She immediately stopped me and told me that was something he was just going to have to “work on”. So I told her he was not challenged and was not learning anything. She became defensive to that and pulled up his ALL testing scores on her computer. She read his scores to me and told me clearly he was not the smartest kid in school. I told her about his meltdowns at home. She replied that she spoke with his teachers at school and he was the model student. She looked at me and told me there was a disconnect between home and school, so the behavior could not be coming from school. I became tearful and told her this meeting was a waste of time because I could tell she made up her mind before I walked in. She was not willing to help me. She told me she too has a smart son and karate helps him, so I could try karate with child. I asked her for community resources for gifted and talented or Asperger’s and she said she didn’t know of any. I cried on the way home- again a dead end while I watched my child suffer more and more each day.”
(Oak summary: At this point the parents seek professional help from Dr. Gary Thompson. The child’s personal file is found to be empty and missing years of history that might help piece together what’s happening with the child. Dr. Thompson travels to the child’s former school district seeking records which they had agreed to provide, but upon arrival (after flight) Alpine School District had contacted the school and somehow convinced the school district to rescind their prior approval. Various tests are now performed by the school on the child to make determinations about his psychological issue.)
10. “On ‘the record’ (the entire IEP Determination meeting was digitally recorded, in open view of all attendees, and after advance written notice of intent to so record), Dr. Thompson summarily informed the entire school team that in his experience of attending close to 500 IEP meetings, he has never seen the amount of unethical, illegal and harmful behavior by a group of public school educators in his entire career. ……“
11. “Taking into account the totality of the Petitioner’s experiences, written documentation via emails to the Petitioner’s spanning over a year, apparent violations of “Child Find’ obligations by the District, callous inter-office emails between the school staff and Alpine District Administrators, the inclusion of invalid “testing” materials into the decision making process despite multiple and specific formal objections by the Petitioner’s Advocate regarding multiple serious ethical errors and practices associated with testing, submission of emotional “testing” results from the school that indicated that child displayed absolutely “perfect” mental health, the Petitioners and Advocate Dr. Gary Thompson believe that this “decision” was made prior to the meeting with Petitioners, and the decision was merely relayed to Petitioners at the meeting……”
12. “These actions resulted in multiple and repeated violations to the educational and civil rights of child, and ultimately has resulted in a denial of FAPE (“Free and Appropriate Public School Education). Petitioners will prove via documentation, expert testimony from a pediatric neuro-psychologist, peer reviewed research in child clinical psychology, email exchanges between the District and the Petitioners, copies of email communications between school and Alpine District, and transcripts from the IEP meeting that Alpine District knowingly conspired to deprive child from obtaining special education services afforded under the 2004 IDEA, which resulted in a blatant and dangerous denial of FAPE…….”
13. “The school team forwarded what they purported to be, all assessment results to the child’s family on Friday, January 24, 2014. A review of their assessment showed that absolutely no valid testing or inquiries into child confirmed anxiety and depressive issues were part of the assessment performed by the school Special Education Team. This dangerous pattern of conforming evaluation protocols and results to preconceived, “one-size-fits-all” evaluation procedures not only resulted in a final evaluation that was invalid, unscientific and not comprehensive in nature, it was the final piece of conclusive evidence that joined a long line of factual events, evidence and behaviors which led the Petitioners and an experienced Education Advocate to conclude that Alpine District performed a fraudulent, unethical and ultimately dangerous evaluation of child…..”
14. The violations by school and Alpine District were neither minor, nor has child “reached the maximum of his education potential.” The violations were blatant and egregious in nature, which resulted in significant emotional harm to both the mother and child in this action.
15. “Given the totality of the record, counsel for the Petitioners, licensed doctoral level clinicians and advocates for the Petitioners, and the Petitioners themselves are shocked at the level of apparent disconnect and callousness exhibited by Alpine School District towards child. Petitioners allege that Alpine School District retaliated against the Petitioners for exercising their rights of parental choice and involvement in their child’s public education experience, and expressed contempt after the Petitioners retained the services of Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center to assist them with obtaining relief for their wonderfully complex, quirky and gifted child.”