Parents of disabled children in South Carolina could face charges of educational neglect and abuse for simply taking their children to certified health care providers for doctor-prescribed therapy.
Allow me to explain this further:
• A child has Autism or another type of disability, attends public school and is in a special education program.
• This child’s physician prescribes therapy, designed specifically to help the child cope with his or her disability.
• The parent picks their child up from school, takes them to a certified health care profession, and then returns the child to school with a note from the practitioner to excuse the temporary absence.
• Schools are refusing to excuse the absences. They are telling parents that with continued unexcused absences, they may face getting reported to the department of social services and face truancy charges, due to educational neglect. Educational Neglect is included in the state of South Carolina’s definition of child abuse and neglect.
• Parents are frightened by this threat and many are withdrawing their children from this much-needed therapy.
What does the United States Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office say about this? Federal law is quite clear on the matter. It states:
Schools are to make modifications and adjustments to rules regarding absences when a student’s absences are due to a disability.
So why are the schools bullying, harassing and threatening these disabled children? They’re doing it because they hope that the parents will comply because they simply don’t know any better. They’re doing it because it’s easier to pick on disabled children than it is to address real truancy issues. They’re doing it because federal funds are based on attendance and the state’s education department is so inept that it doesn’t realize that exceptions can be made to allow for disabled children to have temporary absences while allowing the school to continue receiving federal funding. There are many other reasons why schools are choosing to single these children and their families out for harassment, but the main reason is because it’s always easier to pick on the weakest among us. They are taking advantage of our most vulnerable children and it’s time to hold them accountable for it.
Because federal law always preempts state law, if there is a state law, statute, amendment, regulation, code or a legal opinion that is allowing schools to prevent children with special needs from having their health care absences excused, then it is directly conflicting with federal law and the state law must be interpreted in a way that complies with federal law. For the above reasons, I believe the school districts are in violation of certain requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and FAPE.
Don’t let the school district take advantage of you or your child any longer. Stand up and be a better advocate for your child with special needs. Let’s tell the schools to stop bullying our disabled children!
Danni: Thank you for your letter … this website has repeated called out government-run schools in South Carolina for their failure to put the needs of students first, and nowhere is this failure more pronounced than with regard to children with special needs. That’s why we have been so aggressive in promoting parental choice – specifically school choice programs aimed at helping special needs children. Anyway, we appreciate your letter, your advocacy and your willingness to have others interested in this subject reach out to you …