These May 5 and May 13, 2020 e-mails were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
They are between Jane Strong, director of Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) Office of Special Education Procedural Support, and Samantha Hollins, assistant superintendent of the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) Department of Special Education and Student Services.
Jane explores using waivers to graduate students who weren’t expected to graduate—and asks if an IEP meeting is needed.
Samantha responds to Jane (while blind copying Patricia Haymes, Jeffrey Phenicie, Marianne Moore, and Sabrina Gross), stating, “In a normal situation, a student would be eligible to graduate or he or she would not.” She expresses the “unintended consequences” of graduating students who weren’t expected to graduate and recommends holding IEP meetings.
As Samantha touched upon, there are consequences of graduating students who don’t have the grades, credits, or other requirements needed to graduate. Just a few years ago, NPR, Education Week, and the Washington Post, were full of articles about students being passed in Washington, D.C., high schools, graduating into a world for which they weren’t prepared.
Using waivers to move students along or provide them a specific type of diploma that they might not have otherwise received, is a disservice to the students. There’s a reason the Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) protects students as old as 21. They have the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). It should be provided to them.