At the moment, South Carolina mother Gretchen Herrera isn’t worried about whether her son has to take state tests in reading and math this year.
He has to be in school for her to worry about that.
Last week, Ms. Herrera told me about how she doesn’t want her son Anthony, 12, to take the tests because his two diagnoses, Asperger syndrome and Type I diabetes, are a somewhat lethal combination. Anthony did well on the one test he did take, but his blood sugar spiked to a dangerous level during the exam. She kept him from most of the testing last spring as a result, unable to get official permission from the school to do so despite a note from a doctor.
Then last weekend, Ms. Herrera staged a petite protest outside the South Carolina state government buildings in Columbia.
When she got home, there was a letter waiting for her. The online charter school her son attends said Anthony is no longer welcome.
The school said because Ms. Herrera signed a contract when she enrolled Anthony, a contract that includes a clause about taking state tests, and violated that contract, her son was being withdrawn from the school, effective immediately.
Ms. Herrera told me she did sign that contract—"except the part about testing,” she told me. The school, which didn’t make adequate yearly progress as measured by No Child Left Behind, hasn’t called me back to explain more about its decision. The immediate question: Why unenroll Anthony now, and not months ago when he didn’t take the state tests?
As Ms. Herrera researches schools that she believes would be a good fit for Anthony, he has been sitting at home, his access to the online charter school cut off.
“We’re just hanging out right now.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.