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Teen’s Online Plea To Be Mainstreamed Strikes A Chord


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A 13-year-old with autism has taken to social media to persuade his school district that he ought to attend his local middle school rather than a segregated program for those with disabilities.

Henry Frost, who communicates using an iPad, has garnered thousands of supporters on Facebook and more than 2,300 signatures through an online petition asking his Tampa, Fla.-area school district to allow him to be mainstreamed at his neighborhood school.

According to the petition, Frost says that school officials told him he needs to prove that he can handle transitioning between classes and climbing the building’s stairs. He was also told that he would need to take tests before he could attend his local school.

Currently, Frost is taking online classes at home rather than enroll in the segregated class where he was assigned.

While school district officials said they could not comment specifically on Frost’s case, they said they work hard to provide for every student.

“I would like the chance to try,” Frost told NPR StateImpact Florida. To read more click here.

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Comments (5 Responses)

  1. teresa says:

    First since I live in Hillsborough county all I can say is I am ashame to be in this town and see this happening. But thats florida these kids are to not to be seen or heard a mother of a child with special needs they deserve to be treated like other kids and by law allowed to go to a public school in their district. If the IEP and parents are for him trying the school there should be no reason he should not be allowed. I would get an advocate for the disabled and fight this a 100%. I would do this for my kid and any kid like her that wants a chance to be with there peers who have no disabilities.

  2. KA101 says:

    [Disclaimer: KA101 is an autistic attorney in Pennsylvania who focuses on special-ed law. He claims absolutely no knowledge of Florida law nor bar membership there, but is speaking strictly from his experience with federal laws as applied in Pennsylvania. Florida tends to get territorial about out/state lawyers talking about it.]

    OK. Assuming that the school’s concerns are genuine, there are ways around them.
    1) Familiarization with the building beforehand. It’s easier to get a handle on where things are without the crowds of noisy students. (Meeting the teachers might be helpful, too.)
    2) How about a map on that iPad? Surely the school has fire evac plans posted; scan and photochop as needed.
    3) Letting Mr. Frost leave classes a few minutes early as needed (still getting used to transition, longer commute, complex locker needs, etc) might help things go more smoothly.
    4) Horrors–we may need an aide. If he needs one to receive instruction in the LRE (also where he would receive education were he not disabled), Mr. Frost is entitled to one. This is fact-dependent and I don’t have the facts to affirmatively make the call one way or another, but IDEA is pretty clear on that.

    Not sure why these would be a problem, so it smells like ADA barrier-removal to me. If there’s an elevator, Mr. Frost can be issued a key. If Mr. Frost’s service dog somehow has difficulty with stairs, that may be a training issue but should not be grounds for removing him from the school he would attend were he not disabled.

  3. Mary Pulver says:

    This child should not have to go to these lengths to be heard. The school district’s Child study team should provide the student with the appropriate supports so that he may be educated in the least restrictive environment. If he has difficulty transitioning of using stairs, he should have the appropriate therapeutic interventions either by an occupational therapist, behavior specialist(BCBA), or physical therapist. What are the parent’s doing? Sounds like the family needs an advocate or an attorney. Many states have free, non profit organizations that can help. Good luck.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I predict that Henry Frost, with the help of major publicity, will prevail. It’s distressing to hear how backward some states are with regard to accommodating students with disabilities. I’m shocked that a student with this much capacity to advocate for himself, would be placed in a special school.

  5. Jodi says:

    This is happening at all Florida schools. We moved from OH to Okaloosa County schools a year ago with military orders. My son is 8 years old. In Ohio he was mainstreamed with an aide and performing at just below Kindergarten levels. In Florida, he was placed in a behavioral classroom with 8 other children, one teacher, and one aide. My son went from starting to read to functioning at a 2 year old level. We had to pull him from the school, because it got to the point where he was becoming self-injurious (this behavior did not happen often when he was growing up, but it became a weekly thing at public school). The school district when approached about breaching the law would say, “he’s not ready for mainstreaming” (even though they did no IEE or evaluation to prove he was not ready), “we don’t do aides in Florida” (even though a qualified para professional aide was PUT in his IEP), and “the aide probably was doing the work for him.” (even though he was reading on his own and can recognize over 100 site words, he could not possibly know how to do that). The schools here are ridiculous. The district we are in spends around $54K a year on attorneys to avoid litigation. I’m not the only family– there are about 10-20 families who have the same issues with the school district. Oh and get this, I filed a state complaint and the school was investigated for systematic failure on ESE students. The school district called the base and complained to the military school liaison about my complaint. They wanted the liaison to “pass it up the chain of command” and get me to drop the complaint.

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