LAUSD not offering equal schooling to disabled son
LOS ANGELES – For 13-year-old Isaiah Gardner, it is important to be self-employed.
His mother, Tiffany Gardner, made sure he knew how to do everyday tasks – like feeding himself through his inner tube without help.
What you need to know
- In May 2021, LAUSD announced that at least $ 115 million in pandemic recovery funds would be allocated to educate students with special needs
- Isaiah Gardner was born with a chromosomal abnormality, had a tracheostomy to help him breathe, and is also legally deaf
- When personal learning returned this year, Tiffany Gardner said Isaiah tested negative for COVID and the doctors gave him permission to attend Marina Del Rey Middle School
- On September 13, Gardner was granted a motion by the state ordering LAUSD to comply with Isaiah’s IEP, which agreed to house him in the classroom and provide transportation
“It’s my job to make sure he knows everything that’s going on with him,” said Gardner.
Isaiah was born with a chromosomal abnormality. He also had a tracheostomy to help him breathe and is legally deaf. Much of his early childhood was spent in and out of the hospital.
But since 4th grade, Isaiah has been healthy enough to go to school, and studying has become the highlight of his day. However, Gardner says, distance learning was a struggle for her son during the pandemic school closings.
When personal learning returned that school year, Gardner said Isaiah’s doctor had given him permission to attend Marina Del Rey Middle School. They followed the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) protocol for a weekly negative COVID-19 test, but when they arrived on day one, Gardner said the school wanted to isolate Isaiah from other students and offered a 1: 1 attitude .
The only alternative learning option suggested by Marina Del Rey MS was independent home learning, which Gardner said was not conducive to Isaiah’s special needs.
In a court document from the Office of Administrative Hearings for the State of California, LAUSD states it was due to COVID safety concerns related to Isaiah’s tracheostomy tube.
LAUSD argues that due to possible life-threatening emergencies for students that might require immediate suction and the fact that the student’s mask would need to be removed in the possible presence of staff and other students who could not be immediately distanced, its guidance factually meaningful and justified.
Before the fall semester 2021, the administrators agreed on an individualized education program (IEP) in which Isaiah is accommodated in group lessons in the classroom and receives the associated services and transport options listed.
Chris Eisenberg, a special education attorney who does not handle this case, said Gardner’s case was not an isolated one. Some families from other schools have come to Eisenberg with similar concerns. He confirmed that the independent course is not suitable for students with special needs.
“In most cases [independent study] is inadequate because many of these children really need a teacher to work with them and for many parents it is very important to be in school because they want socialization but also because even if self study works with zoom, that’s still not something the student can deal with, ”he said.
Eisenberg believes in Isaiah’s case, saying the school violates federal and state laws that allow students with disabilities to have a fair and equal education in a least restrictive environment.
On September 13, Gardner was granted a state motion ordering LAUSD to abide by Isaiah’s IEP, which had agreed to accommodate him in the classroom and arrange transportation. However, she says the school still won’t let her son on the bus.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to LAUSD on the matter, but the district made no comments on any pending or ongoing litigation. In May 2021, LAUSD announced that at least $ 115 million in pandemic recovery funds would be allocated to educate students with special needs. Gardner is curious about where the money will be used.
“[Isaiah’s] His medical fragility doesn’t make him any less educative, “she said.” It’s likely going to be a bigger fight, but I’ll do it because Isaiah deserves all he’s due. “