TEA finds education for medically fragile student insufficient:

NORTH TEXAS (CBSNEWSDFW.COM) – As school comes to an end, a north Texas family says Fort Worth ISD failed to provide adequate education for their medically fragile, special needs child.

6th grader Cornell attends Jean McClung Middle School as a virtual student because he was born with one kidney. When in-person school began this year, grandma Bonnie Self said she was worried about Cornell’s health. “Every day when he was in school, they were calling 3-4 times a day saying, somebody in the school has COVID,” Self said.

“We pull (ed) him out because we know that he does not have much to fight with,” Self said.

A doctor’s note allowed him to stay home. Fort Worth ISD offered the 6th grader an online education with a company called Proximity Academy, which it hired for students like Cornell. In the contract the I-Team pulled, the reason behind partnering with Proximity Academy was to create a “temporary virtual learning option for Fort Worth ISD enrolled students in grades K-6.” It offered virtual learning opportunities for approximately 230 students who were not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and those who have a “verifiable medical condition that prevents them from attending school in person due to COVID-19.”

But Self said that education was inadequate. “Their teacher was never really there. It was mostly videos that they were following,” she said. She barely saw any teachers actively teaching his IEP or Individualized Education Plan which outlines a plan customized to the needs of the child. She said she never received a report card nor was she able to get in touch with a teacher. She believes that her grandson was left behind.

She turned to Louise Braziel, a special education advocate. Braziel says the grandmother did not know what to do and how to go about resolving the situation. Together, they complained to the Texas Education Agency, which found that “Fort Worth ISD did not fulfill its obligation to provide the student with free and appropriate public education during the time he was enrolled.”

Proximity Learning did not discuss Cornell’s case with CBS but insisted in a statement that: “Proximity Learning provides certified virtual teachers to teach students who are taking a district’s scheduled classes from home. We work to accommodate every student’s learning needs and ensure that they are receiving the same quality of instruction through virtual teaching as they are from in-person teaching The process includes:

  • Monitoring teacher efficacy for student success in the virtual classroom by employing a Teacher Effectiveness Team to sit in on classes and ensure teachers are meeting strict standards.
  • Recording all virtual classes to allow for students to watch on-demand.
  • Utilizing testing tools to record student progress over time in accordance with state and district curriculum standards. Student progress updates are delivered to Fort Worth ISD for reporting within the school system. ”

Fort Worth ISD told CBS 11 that “the family filed a TEA complaint and the District responded promptly. The District is actively engaged with the family to identify the educational solution that best meets the needs of their student.

But the family disputes that. Braziel told CBS 11, “they only want to offer what they are willing to offer.”

“They’re not willing to compromise, they’re not willing to come to the table and see the grandmother’s version of it and quite honestly, the grandmother has lost confidence in the Fort Worth Independent School District,” she said.

She wants Fort Worth ISD to provide Cornell with extra tutoring.

The pandemic has especially hit special education hard. In the last four years, more children requiring special education have been identified by the Texas Education Agency. State data shows students with learning disabilities rose by 25% and those with emotional disturbances rose by 19%.

Special education advocates and licensed counselors like Dr. Tammy Cyra says it’s time to get to work. She says teacher training to properly implement IEP along with consistent communication with parents is required in special education cases.

“I think it can bridge, a lot of obstacles that the special education is faced with,” she said.

She says special education advocates can also help parents who may be dealing with special education issues in schools.

Self is currently homeschooling her grandson. Proximity Learning also provides some sort of virtual education for Dallas ISD and Frisco ISD.

Leave a Comment