The parents of children with disabilities have filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Education, claiming the state isn’t letting their kids go to school for a full day.
The issue was first brought to light by the Oregonian/OregonLive almost three years ago. The news outlet referred to the case of a Portland high school student with autism whom district officials ordered to be sent home at 11:15 a.m. every day.
Although the state education department issued a memo that told schools the practice wasn’t appropriate and must stop, they haven’t actually taken actions to stop it.
Schools say that the students who are allowed to attend school and receive tutoring at home for as little as a few hours every week, have behaved in ways that frighten people, damaged property and even physically harmed people at their schools. However, advocates say that the schools should determine what’s causing this behavior and address it before it escalates.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, a 6-year-old boy identified as J.N., was only allowed to go to school for one hour as a kindergartner. Another boy, 10-year-old Elijah, reads at grade level and loves math, but he has to leave school early every day because the school hasn’t figured out how to deal with his autism.
“Shortening the school day of a child with a disability is not an appropriate substitute for providing the academic and behavioral services and supports that would enable that child to learn and progress socially during a full school day,” the lawsuit says. “When children are subjected to shortened days, they frequently fall behind academically and miss out on critical social opportunities in which they can practice appropriate behaviors.”
There are currently over 70,000 special education students in the state of Oregon. Advocates say that the number of complaints they receive indicate that hundreds or thousands of them have had their instructional hours cut by their schools even though the parents have objected to this.