NORTH TEXAS (CBSNEWSDFW.COM) – As school draws to a close, a North Texas family says ISD Fort Worth has failed to provide an adequate education for their medically fragile and special-needs child.
Cornell, a 6th grader, attends Jean McClung Middle School as a virtual student because he was born with a kidney. When in-person school started this year, Grandma Bonnie Self said she was worried about Cornell’s health. “Every day when he was at school, they would call 3-4 times a day to say someone at school had COVID,” Self said.
“We pulled him because we know he doesn’t have much to fight,” Self said.
A doctor’s note allowed him to stay home. Fort Worth ISD offered the 6th grader online training with a company called Proximity Academy, which she hired for students like Cornell. In the contract the I-Team entered into, the reason for partnering with Proximity Academy was to create a “temporary virtual learning option for students enrolled at Fort Worth ISD in K-6.” It provided virtual learning opportunities to approximately 230 students who were not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and those who have a “verifiable medical condition that prevents them from attending school in person due to COVID. -19”.
But Self said the education was inadequate. “Their teacher was never really there. It was mostly videos they were following,” she said. She barely saw teachers actively teaching her IEP or Individualized Education Plan which outlines a plan tailored to the needs of the child. She said she never received a report card or was able to get in touch with a teacher. She thinks her grandson was abandoned.
She turned to Louise Braziel, a special education advocate. Braziel says the grandmother did not know what to do and how to resolve the situation. Together they complained to the Texas Education Agency, which concluded that “Fort Worth ISD had failed in its obligation to provide the student with a free and appropriate public education during the period he was enrolled.”
Proximity Learning did not discuss Cornell’s case with TNZT, but insisted in a statement that “Local Learning provides certified virtual teachers to teach students taking a district’s scheduled lessons from home. We work to meet each student’s learning needs and ensure they receive the same quality of instruction through the virtual instruction they receive from in-person instruction The process includes:
- Monitor teacher effectiveness for student success in the virtual classroom by employing a teacher effectiveness team to attend classes and ensure teachers meet high standards.
- Recording of all virtual classes to allow students to watch on demand.
- Use testing tools to record student progress over time in accordance with state and district curriculum standards. Updates on student progress are forwarded to ISD Fort Worth for reporting within the school system.”
Fort Worth ISD told TNZT 11 that “the family filed a complaint with the TEA and the district responded in a timely manner. The District actively engages with the family to identify the educational solution that best meets their student’s needs.
But the family disputes this. Braziel told TNZT 11, “They only want to deliver what they’re willing to deliver.”
“They don’t want to compromise, they don’t want to come to the table and see Grandma’s version and quite honestly, Grandma has lost faith in the Fort Worth Independent School District,” he said. she declared.
She wants Fort Worth ISD to provide Cornell with additional tutoring.
The pandemic has hit special education particularly hard. Over the past four years, more children in need of special education have been identified by the Texas Education Agency. State data shows that students with learning disabilities increased by 25% and those with emotional disorders increased by 19%.
Special education advocates and licensed counselors like Dr. Tammy Cyra say it’s time to get down to business. She says training teachers to properly implement the IEP as well as consistent communication with parents is necessary in special education cases.
“I think it can overcome a lot of barriers that special education faces,” she said.
She says special education advocates can also help parents who may be facing special education issues in schools.
Self is currently homeschooling her grandson. Proximity Learning also offers a kind of virtual education for Dallas ISD and Frisco ISD.