F is for Fair
A Meridian parent is upset with policy that prevented his son from attending a field trip to the Anne Frank Memorial because he had bad grades. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Meridian Middle School recently held a field trip to the Anne Frank Memorial in boise to wrap up a year long focus on human rights.
But a parent of a special needs child says his son was denied that important learning opportunity because his grades weren't good enough.
The mission of the Anne Frank Memorial is to promote respect for human dignity and diversity through education. Words that George Sessions says Meridian Middle School needs to take to heart.
"My son was not allowed to go learn about a great person like Anne Frank who stood up for people who were different," he said. "His grandfather was in WWII the battle of the bulge and liberated camps these people were in and he had nitemares to the day he died about this."
"I've taught special ed before," says Sessions, "I've been a teacher. So, you don't take away such an awesome learning experience based on grades alone."
Sessions showed us a permission slip from the school that says, "students will be expected to have passing grades in all classes to attend field trip."
His son had two fs.
"I would say it's just dead wrong," continues Sessions,"It's a totally ineffective way of teaching."
The Idaho Council for Developmental Disabilities says a field trip to someplace like the Anne Frank Memorial is one of the best ways for special needs students to learn.
"It's really unfortunate," says Amanda Holloway with the ICDD, "because they are missing that learning opportunity and there's a lot that can be gained even from a social aspect from going on a field trip."
For legal reasons, the school district cannot comment on the specifics of this particular case.
But we asked the school why it's permission slips exclude students from field trips if they have poor grades.
"Here's the hard choice that a school has to make," explains Eric Exline, District PIO, "Do you send a kid on a trip in a course that they're passing and have them miss school from 8 to 3 and miss those classes that they're failing."
The district says the kids who stay behind get more attention and help in their core classes.
"For those kids left behind, it becomes a bonus day of learning," continues Exline, "I understand it's not the enrichment activity, but it's a good day for kids who are behind in school."
But the trip to the Anne Frank Memorial was supposed to be the culmination of a year long focus on human rights, and Holloway says it was an important opportunity....missed.
"That's really unfortunate because being a human rights issue, people with developmental disabilities have been on the bottom of the totem pole as far as what people percieve their rights to be. It was a chance for the other kids to look around and say wow, these kids have the same rights as everyone else," says Holloway.
The district says parents get notices well in advance if their student is not allowed to go on a field trip.
They say parents can appeal if they feel the trip is important enough. Sessions says he didn't know until the day of the trip that his son couldn't go.