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Should He Be Allowed to Graduate?

Autistic Boy's Parents Need to Accept He Won't Graduate From High School

Posted by Jeanne Sager

graduationIt's every parent's dream to have their child grow up and graduate from high school. But when do you give up on that dream? When do you say, "OK, that's what some kids do. Some kids, but maybe not my kid?" Sinclaire Coffer's parents aren't there yet. 

Their 17-year-old son has taken a math test -- required by the State of Georgia for a high school senior to graduate -- five times. And every single time, Coffer has failed. But because their son has autism, Coffer's parents think their son should get to graduate anyway.

I feel for the Coffers. I really, honestly, 100 percent do. Parenting a kid on the spectrum has its own special challenges to begin with. And they've gotten their kid this far.

They say they've hired a private tutor. They've encouraged their son to take extra courses. They've done everything that a parent SHOULD do and more. They even supported his venture to the point of petitioning the state's board of education for a waiver on the math test -- based on his autism diagnosis -- so that Sinclaire could say he too was a high school graduate.

But now that the state board of education has said no, sorry, but rules are rules, I feel for them even more. Because now they may have to face one of the hardest thing for parents: that point at which we realize there are some things our kids just can't do. We spend their early childhood talking about "no limits," but at some point, that's exactly what they are. Limits on who this person will be and what they can do.

It's not a part of parenting that comes with pithy quotes about hopes and dreams. It's not a part of parenting they talk about much in the books. It's a part that downright sucks.

But it's reality. Some kids are made to kick butt on the basketball court. Some kids are made to multiply huge sums in their head. Some kids are made to graduate.

And some kids aren't. I know I will never be an artist (and have the dismal scores from high school art class on my transcript to prove it). I will never be a nuclear engineer.

This kid gave it the old college try. He took a test FIVE times, and he failed it every single time. The state has said he can't graduate unless he passes it, so what are the Coffers going to do? Are they going to make him take it again and again and again? Or will they accept that this is one dream that is not to be and move on, find something their child can do and do well? I can't make that decision for them, but I hope they make the right one.

Should Sinclaire Coffer be alllowed to graduate?

What would you do if you found out your child could not graduate from high school?

 

by on May. 15, 2012 at 9:24 AM
Replies (31-40):
PinkieRed
by on May. 15, 2012 at 8:53 PM
I apologize if that came off as critical towards you. I didn't intend that. I just think it's a shame that so many public school districts are in such dire straits financially right now.

I can see how hiring an outside company for certain things would save money for the district though.

My older sister's best friend is a special education teacher for a large, urban public school district here in the Cleveland area.

The friend works with severely multi-disabled kids, as in kids who are completely non-verbal, in diapers, etc.

My sister said her friend has two full time aides in the classroom, for about 4 kids, but still makes $90,000 a year.

I'm not trying to start an argument about whether teachers' salaries are too high, just that given the cost of employing the teacher alone at $90,000 a year, plus benefits, pension contribution, etc., I can see how hiring an outside company for certain things could come out cheaper for the school district.


Quoting mumsy2three:


Quoting PinkieRed:
That was interesting - thanks for the reply.



How crazy and sad though, that school districts are actually having to resort to hiring outside companies to fill in for teachers because of budget cuts.
~It's actually the other way around. Our company was able to provide all the special ed services (except learning support district did their own) from transportation to therapies for a reasonable and cost efficient price. It was and still is in some cases cheaper to do it that way then to hire on the therapists, psychs, teachers, staff etc. that the students need. Now that the governor has cut public education money so drastically many of the districts are trying to "take back" some of the other "specialized" classrooms to save money. Our district joined a consortium with two other local school districts and now have life skills, alternative ed and will do emotional support for the three districts rather than using LIU services for these classrooms.



The special ed teachers who work at the Catholic high school my daughter will be attending this fall aren't actually employees of the school, but are employed by the public school district. I was surprised to learn that. ~It's kind of the same situation for us. We aren't school district employees we are LIU employees but are technically paid for by the district.




Quoting mumsy2three:

I work in a high school Autistic Support classroom. The company I work for provides special ed services within public school districts. Our districts have learning support classrooms and are starting to take back some of their other classrooms like emotional, life skills, NI support classrooms due to huge budget cuts from the state but so far the Autistic Support program is safe. 

We now have and have had the full spectrum in our classroom through the years. I'm an assistant and have been reg ed classroom support for many of our students through the years. Academically those students are on grade level or slightly below and really don't "stand out" so to speak. We have also had students (Aspergers and higher functioning AS) who went to all of their classes independently and maintained a full course load. Our students who don't go out to reg ed classes still do academics they just aren't on/near grade level.

Quoting PinkieRed:

When my daughter starts high school this fall, she'll be in modified/special education classes for math, science, and English. She'll still have to take/pass the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) just like regular students though.

I do have to agree with you about the autism vs learning disabilities and other special needs, though. At least in Ohio, there are far more support programs, educational options, school vouchers, etc, for kids with autism vs ones with a learning disability.

I know some kids with autism can be quite impaired, but my daughter goes to school with quite a few kids with Asperger's, one who is a good friend of hers, and I honestly can't see any difference between them and my daughter, academically, socially, etc, despite them having "autism" and my daughter having a "learning disability".






Quoting mumsy2three:

I am so glad my dd is graduating this year. Our school is going from the PSSA's to the Keystone exam next year. My dd would have had a terrible time trying to pass the Keystones in math. At this point from what I understand is if a student fails the test their option is to retake the class and test the following year. I think that stinks. When we used the PSSA's students that got below basic on the test had to take a remediation course or class.

I have no idea how it will work for special ed students who are not out in regular ed classes, the majority of the students I work with are not in regular ed for their core classes. I don't know if they have or are working on a separate test for those students like the PSSA's have. I guess we will find out next year.

I'm kind of on the fence about whether this fella should get his diploma without passing the required exam. I think the article left out info like whether he was on an IEP or not.  Also, not to be insensitive but I wonder if we would be reading the same article if it was a student not on the spectrum or had special needs who wasn't able to pass the state exam?



Posted on CafeMom Mobile
mumsy2three
by Shauna on May. 16, 2012 at 6:30 AM


Quoting PinkieRed:

I apologize if that came off as critical towards you. I didn't intend that. I just think it's a shame that so many public school districts are in such dire straits financially right now. No,no... I didn't take it as criticizing. I agree with you about the lack of funds for public education. It makes me mad because current governor is a big fan of vouchers and private schools and keeps cutting money from public education.

I can see how hiring an outside company for certain things would save money for the district though. In our area most of the specical ed services came from the company I work for. Like I said previously kids who are able to be served in the regular school district are going back to their districts. But Autistic Support and Multi disabilities have yet to be taken back because the students are usually more involved than those who have an emotional support issue or need life skills.

My older sister's best friend is a special education teacher for a large, urban public school district here in the Cleveland area.

The friend works with severely multi-disabled kids, as in kids who are completely non-verbal, in diapers, etc. I think this is the toughest job of all. It's good she has the ability and heart to do it.

My sister said her friend has two full time aides in the classroom, for about 4 kids, but still makes $90,000 a year.

I'm not trying to start an argument about whether teachers' salaries are too high, just that given the cost of employing the teacher alone at $90,000 a year, plus benefits, pension contribution, etc., I can see how hiring an outside company for certain things could come out cheaper for the school district.I can guarantee that in my area none of our teachers make that, even in district, lol. That is an amazing salary.
The psychologists from my company make around that and the administration from our district make that kind of salary. I know that here they look at longevity and degrees plus credits beyond a degree and that is what salary is based on. I've heard they are talking about getting rid of the degrees plus credits portion, then raises will be based on longevity only. It is frustrating b/c when our company talks about making cuts it's always cutting teachers and assistants, Never psychs who could be a contracted or as needed person.

Quoting mumsy2three:


Quoting PinkieRed:
That was interesting - thanks for the reply.



How crazy and sad though, that school districts are actually having to resort to hiring outside companies to fill in for teachers because of budget cuts.
~It's actually the other way around. Our company was able to provide all the special ed services (except learning support district did their own) from transportation to therapies for a reasonable and cost efficient price. It was and still is in some cases cheaper to do it that way then to hire on the therapists, psychs, teachers, staff etc. that the students need. Now that the governor has cut public education money so drastically many of the districts are trying to "take back" some of the other "specialized" classrooms to save money. Our district joined a consortium with two other local school districts and now have life skills, alternative ed and will do emotional support for the three districts rather than using LIU services for these classrooms.



The special ed teachers who work at the Catholic high school my daughter will be attending this fall aren't actually employees of the school, but are employed by the public school district. I was surprised to learn that. ~It's kind of the same situation for us. We aren't school district employees we are LIU employees but are technically paid for by the district.




Quoting mumsy2three:

I work in a high school Autistic Support classroom. The company I work for provides special ed services within public school districts. Our districts have learning support classrooms and are starting to take back some of their other classrooms like emotional, life skills, NI support classrooms due to huge budget cuts from the state but so far the Autistic Support program is safe. 

We now have and have had the full spectrum in our classroom through the years. I'm an assistant and have been reg ed classroom support for many of our students through the years. Academically those students are on grade level or slightly below and really don't "stand out" so to speak. We have also had students (Aspergers and higher functioning AS) who went to all of their classes independently and maintained a full course load. Our students who don't go out to reg ed classes still do academics they just aren't on/near grade level.

Quoting PinkieRed:

When my daughter starts high school this fall, she'll be in modified/special education classes for math, science, and English. She'll still have to take/pass the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) just like regular students though.

I do have to agree with you about the autism vs learning disabilities and other special needs, though. At least in Ohio, there are far more support programs, educational options, school vouchers, etc, for kids with autism vs ones with a learning disability.

I know some kids with autism can be quite impaired, but my daughter goes to school with quite a few kids with Asperger's, one who is a good friend of hers, and I honestly can't see any difference between them and my daughter, academically, socially, etc, despite them having "autism" and my daughter having a "learning disability".






Quoting mumsy2three:

I am so glad my dd is graduating this year. Our school is going from the PSSA's to the Keystone exam next year. My dd would have had a terrible time trying to pass the Keystones in math. At this point from what I understand is if a student fails the test their option is to retake the class and test the following year. I think that stinks. When we used the PSSA's students that got below basic on the test had to take a remediation course or class.

I have no idea how it will work for special ed students who are not out in regular ed classes, the majority of the students I work with are not in regular ed for their core classes. I don't know if they have or are working on a separate test for those students like the PSSA's have. I guess we will find out next year.

I'm kind of on the fence about whether this fella should get his diploma without passing the required exam. I think the article left out info like whether he was on an IEP or not.  Also, not to be insensitive but I wonder if we would be reading the same article if it was a student not on the spectrum or had special needs who wasn't able to pass the state exam?




missvickey
by on May. 16, 2012 at 6:59 AM
I agree. Don't lessen the value of the diploma. Create a new "type" of diploma or perhaps a certificate of acheivement stating he completed highschool. And let him participate in the ceremony. As each kid steps up announce "Diploma, Jane Smith; certificate of acheivement John Doe; diploma, Joe Schmoe; etc..."

Quoting atlmom2:

I am pretty sure we do here in Wisconsin.  I don't see how you can lessen a regular diploma but you can make a different one. 


Quoting MB13:

I thought that most states have some type of special education diploma available for special needs students.


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Ewa101
by Bronze Member on May. 16, 2012 at 7:28 AM

Is there an alternate diploma?  In NY state there is an IEP diploma that exempts the kids from certain state tests, or allows them to score lower to pass.  If there is no such thing, maybe his parents should petition the state to consider an alternate route to a HS diploma, a diploma that would make it obvious that the kid did not meet the same graduation requirements as all the other graduates.



ccleri56
by on May. 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM

it is obvious that he has tried very hard it seems. how do his classmates feel? if they are upset that he would get special treatment they need to realize that life is not fair. i think he should graduate

peacheylady
by on May. 16, 2012 at 9:11 AM
My thoughts exactly!
I still think and feel he needs to graduate!


Quoting MB13:

I thought that most states have some type of special education diploma available for special needs students.

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PinkieRed
by on May. 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM
Honestly, I know several other teachers, who work for the same school district as my sister's friend, who earn salaries in the $80,000-$90,000 range.

All three women have master's, and about 15-20 years of teaching experience. The one lady is only about my age, 38.

I know I'll never earn that much money a year, in my lifetime. I think I went into the wrong profession, LOL!

Seriously though, I give teachers a lot of credit, because I could not handle dealing with other people's kids all day. My own kids are enough!


Quoting mumsy2three:


Quoting PinkieRed:

I apologize if that came off as critical towards you. I didn't intend that. I just think it's a shame that so many public school districts are in such dire straits financially right now. No,no... I didn't take it as criticizing. I agree with you about the lack of funds for public education. It makes me mad because current governor is a big fan of vouchers and private schools and keeps cutting money from public education.



I can see how hiring an outside company for certain things would save money for the district though. In our area most of the specical ed services came from the company I work for. Like I said previously kids who are able to be served in the regular school district are going back to their districts. But Autistic Support and Multi disabilities have yet to be taken back because the students are usually more involved than those who have an emotional support issue or need life skills.



My older sister's best friend is a special education teacher for a large, urban public school district here in the Cleveland area.



The friend works with severely multi-disabled kids, as in kids who are completely non-verbal, in diapers, etc. I think this is the toughest job of all. It's good she has the ability and heart to do it.



My sister said her friend has two full time aides in the classroom, for about 4 kids, but still makes $90,000 a year.



I'm not trying to start an argument about whether teachers' salaries are too high, just that given the cost of employing the teacher alone at $90,000 a year, plus benefits, pension contribution, etc., I can see how hiring an outside company for certain things could come out cheaper for the school district.I can guarantee that in my area none of our teachers make that, even in district, lol. That is an amazing salary.
The psychologists from my company make around that and the administration from our district make that kind of salary. I know that here they look at longevity and degrees plus credits beyond a degree and that is what salary is based on. I've heard they are talking about getting rid of the degrees plus credits portion, then raises will be based on longevity only. It is frustrating b/c when our company talks about making cuts it's always cutting teachers and assistants, Never psychs who could be a contracted or as needed person.



Quoting mumsy2three:


Quoting PinkieRed:
That was interesting - thanks for the reply.





How crazy and sad though, that school districts are actually having to resort to hiring outside companies to fill in for teachers because of budget cuts.
~It's actually the other way around. Our company was able to provide all the special ed services (except learning support district did their own) from transportation to therapies for a reasonable and cost efficient price. It was and still is in some cases cheaper to do it that way then to hire on the therapists, psychs, teachers, staff etc. that the students need. Now that the governor has cut public education money so drastically many of the districts are trying to "take back" some of the other "specialized" classrooms to save money. Our district joined a consortium with two other local school districts and now have life skills, alternative ed and will do emotional support for the three districts rather than using LIU services for these classrooms.





The special ed teachers who work at the Catholic high school my daughter will be attending this fall aren't actually employees of the school, but are employed by the public school district. I was surprised to learn that. ~It's kind of the same situation for us. We aren't school district employees we are LIU employees but are technically paid for by the district.






Quoting mumsy2three:

I work in a high school Autistic Support classroom. The company I work for provides special ed services within public school districts. Our districts have learning support classrooms and are starting to take back some of their other classrooms like emotional, life skills, NI support classrooms due to huge budget cuts from the state but so far the Autistic Support program is safe. 

We now have and have had the full spectrum in our classroom through the years. I'm an assistant and have been reg ed classroom support for many of our students through the years. Academically those students are on grade level or slightly below and really don't "stand out" so to speak. We have also had students (Aspergers and higher functioning AS) who went to all of their classes independently and maintained a full course load. Our students who don't go out to reg ed classes still do academics they just aren't on/near grade level.

Quoting PinkieRed:

When my daughter starts high school this fall, she'll be in modified/special education classes for math, science, and English. She'll still have to take/pass the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) just like regular students though.

I do have to agree with you about the autism vs learning disabilities and other special needs, though. At least in Ohio, there are far more support programs, educational options, school vouchers, etc, for kids with autism vs ones with a learning disability.

I know some kids with autism can be quite impaired, but my daughter goes to school with quite a few kids with Asperger's, one who is a good friend of hers, and I honestly can't see any difference between them and my daughter, academically, socially, etc, despite them having "autism" and my daughter having a "learning disability".








Quoting mumsy2three:

I am so glad my dd is graduating this year. Our school is going from the PSSA's to the Keystone exam next year. My dd would have had a terrible time trying to pass the Keystones in math. At this point from what I understand is if a student fails the test their option is to retake the class and test the following year. I think that stinks. When we used the PSSA's students that got below basic on the test had to take a remediation course or class.

I have no idea how it will work for special ed students who are not out in regular ed classes, the majority of the students I work with are not in regular ed for their core classes. I don't know if they have or are working on a separate test for those students like the PSSA's have. I guess we will find out next year.

I'm kind of on the fence about whether this fella should get his diploma without passing the required exam. I think the article left out info like whether he was on an IEP or not.  Also, not to be insensitive but I wonder if we would be reading the same article if it was a student not on the spectrum or had special needs who wasn't able to pass the state exam?




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Pirate.Mum
by on May. 16, 2012 at 9:20 AM

We have that here in VA too.

Quoting MB13:

I thought that most states have some type of special education diploma available for special needs students.

It sounds like the kid put in a lot of effort to get that far...he should graduate perhaps with a special diploma or something


Namaste! ~Serenity*
First mate to my Captain Asif
, Pirate mum to DAK (19), PIT (15) & Immie(<1)

We are a bf-ing cd-ing, bls, circing/vaccing organic family of Pirates
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malxslady
by on May. 16, 2012 at 10:21 AM

I think that they should keep fighting because the board can make a case by case exception.  If he passed all his classes then that should be enough. As a parent that may find herself in this type of situation next year I would fight until they did what they should have. These kids struggle to find their fit in a world that is not willing to help them fit in, so for Georgia to say he has to pass a test is like saying we do not care if you acheive anything in your life.

lazyd
by Bronze Member on May. 16, 2012 at 6:21 PM

I feel if Sinclaire had passed all his other classes and had met all other requirements than maybe he should still get a diploma.  If he has autism and has an IEP was he given special accommodations to take the test?  Im sure his parents will probably sue under the disability act.  Don't most states keep kids who have severe disabilities until they are 21 and than graduate them from high school anyway?  I know it would suck, and maybe Sinclaire could take online classes or just work for a few years, but than he could get his diploma at 21. 

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