Discrimination: EXCLUSION FROM FIELD TRIPS

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Jennifer:  Can a school/teacher exclude a child from a field trip because they are worried about a behavior issue? Although behaviorally my child has had very few issues throughout the year they seem to want to exclude her because they are worried about the “what ifs”?

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michele

My daughter has adhd, anxiety and depression. Because of this she has struggled with her grades and attendance. The school has decided to ban her from the social dance and class trip because she is failing two classes. I feel that this is discriminatory and will cause her emotional stress and only worsen her condition. Can the school legally punish a student with a diagnosed emotional disorder and ADHD? Any suggestions on the best tactics in convincing the school to reverse their decision?
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Morning

Think long term. If anxiety is an issue and ATTENDANCE–what will motivate her to attend a dance? What will motivate her to go to high school classes and finish? What will motivate her for job training and transition after high school? The hardest thing I had to do was to allow the schools to do their job and implement expectations — it hurt at times but it worked. I felt as I was enabling behaviors and sometimes school staff can help in so many ways. Work with them with some creative ways to motivate her and take the heavy off of you as a parent. I agree that dances are important. Attendance issues may worsen when she knows that she has less to strive for to maintain attendance. Is there anyone who can collaborate with you to think outside the box? All kids deserve a chance.

Chris

We have a high school student that is planning on going on our music trip to New York in a week and a half. He has diabetes and refuses to monitor it and take responsibility for what he eats and drinks. He has missed school events on more than one occasion due to low sugar crashes. We do not want him to go on this trip, and the administration does not want to deal with his mother. We have set strict expectation on him and he will have one to one monitoring by a school supervisor on the trip. If he doesn’t follow these guidelines, he will be sent home. Are we wrong on this concern? I don’t see how legally it can be challenged, but what do I know.

Chuck

If the school attorney has not been contacted for advise on this, they should be.

Marion

I have a student in a private Montessori school who was not allowed to go on an overnight trip recently. The classroom teacher and the administration did not ask for input from the Special Education teacher (me) or the ABA Therapist. He is not a violent child at all and communicates very well. He can be loud, requires sensory breaks, likes to touch things, but can be redirected. The student told me his family could not afford the field trip but I found out that the classroom teacher told his Mom he could not go and the Mom lied to the child to spare his feelings. In turn, when I asked the child why he was not going, he said they could not afford it. The ABA therapist and I feel that he has been discriminated against.

Marcus

Marion,

Your feelings are correct he is being discriminated against. I see no reason that this young man could not participate in the overnight trip. He could have been easily accommodated with his sensory breaks and maybe even a 1:1 wrap around to help him from touching objects. Tell the parent they can file a complaint because he was left out. I do like the fact that his parents tried to spare his feelings but he should have went.

Michele

Jennifer – it doesn’t sound like the school has the right considerations in mind regarding your child going on the field trip. I have been a SpEd teacher for 24 years. This year I work with a student who is aggressive towards peers, and sometimes staff. He has at least one or two big episodes each week. Most occur at recess but sometimes the wrong words out of someone’s mouth will set him off. We have had to restrain this child at least twice this year so far to stop him from injuring another student. My issue is that the district says we have to take all students on field trips but this particular student is a high risk. Opinions?

Marcus

Is there a way to get a 1:1 wrap around to help control his outburst so that he can still participate in the trip.

Natalie

Yes, absolutely. If your child poses a problem in the classroom then how can they be trusted to meet expectations outside of the classroom with limited adult supervision. It is in the best interest of you for the safety of your child and the other students in his or her class. Field trips are stressful and can cause a ton of anxiety for teachers alone, throw an unnecessary behavioral issue into the mix and it is not even worth it at all. Maybe you should request that you accompany your daughter on the trip.

Advocate Pat Howey describes an interesting way to “State Your Case” about transportation for a field trip. Take a look to see if this would work for you. http://www.wrightslaw.com/howey/field.trip.transport.htm

kcarr

Pat,
Thanks for the additional input. I do have another question, also of a legal type. If many disabled students were discriminated against in a school system (child find, reasonable accom., etc.) a few years ago, and now some issues have been corrected, could a class action suit be filed for past discrimination?

kcarr

Can a public school require the statement “Parent to accompany child on field trips” in a 504 plan?

Chuck

Not legally. 504 & the ADA deal with discrimination. Unless all parents are expected to accompany their child this is discrimination. Your state education agency may help you, but the federal Office of Civil Rights enforces 504 & the ADA. Your state parent training & information center can provide you with information & assistance. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center

kcarr

Chuck,
Thanks for the reply!! I will check out the link you shared.

Sonsy

My son’s school is excluding him from activities just because other students say they are uncomfortable around him. He is socially awkward but is not mean or threatening in any way. He always apologizes when he does something that upsets anyone even though it is a manifestation of his autism.This has escalated to a bullying issue from the students and to some extent even one of the teachers. If I cannot get this to stop, do I have legal recourse or should I contact the state board of education?

Chuck

Excluding him from such activities is a violation of IDEA. The school is also required to address bullying. I suggest a letter to the principal & special ed director pointing out that your child is not participating in these activities, & asking for a meetings with administrators, & the IEP team to develop supports so he can participate in these trips & to address his social awkwardness. Also formally report the bullying to the principal as it occurs.

Marcus

Sonsy you do have recourse. Your son is allowed to attend the same activities as his peers. They are not even giving you a good reason other than they are uncomfortable around him. Studies have all shown that disabled peers can in fact flourish when they are with non disabled peers. The school should be working with him on his social skills. Does your son have an IEP? You may want to have that put in there. I would start writing letters first to the principal than the director of special education. If you get nowhere with those than go to the superintendent of your district. If nothing works I would either request a due process hearing to get to the bottom of this or file a state complaint. It is so sad that your son has to go through this.I hope this advice helps you and good luck.

April

No! If they are truly worried they should have extra staff on hand just in case of meltdown so they are prepared for it. But why take away the opportunity for a child to experience life lessons because they have a disability that may or may not even be the problem they say?

Hello

I agree with your opinion. What does the law say though? If a child has meltdowns regularly that are sometimes violent does that make a difference?

Chuck

That certainly needs to be considered. I feel that these decisions should be made by the IEP team, not by one or 2 people.

Hello

Agreed. I just want to know what the law is concerning this. I know there are some laws in place protecting the best interest of the child. However, I am not finding clarity on this. Are there specific criteria for the IEP team to consider? Otherwise it seems to be a biased/feelings based decision.

Chuck

IDEA says Each school “must take steps, including the provision of supplementary aids & services determined appropriate and necessary by the child’s IEP Team, to provide nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in the manner necessary to afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in those services & activities.” 300.107(a)

Alicia

Does this hold true for students in Private Day Schools also? Can staff hold special needs students in a private day school from attending academic aligned field trips because of their behaviors?

Marcus

Hi Alicia,

I am still learning the law but i even think Private schools cannot deny a disabled child the right to field trips. I believe they also have to provide supplementary aids and any other services needed.

Chuck

The Americans with Disabilities Act should apply to these schools. The office of Civil Rights enforces the ADA so their website may have information on this issue.

Concerned

What do we do if its the Principle and the Spec Ed Director that are causing the bullying by dramatically removing our child in front of other kids because of what he “might” do? What do we do if our child was denied going on a field trip because of what they “might” do, but have never done before? What recourse do we have?

Chuck

District policy should allow parents to take their concerns to the superintendent, & possibly the school board. IDEA rules give parents dispute resolution processes for situations like this. Your state parent training & information can tell you about how these work in your state & provide you other help. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center

Marcus

Concerned,

You can request a due process hearing to get to the bottom of why your child was removed in front of other kids. You can also file a complaint with your state education agency. You can even talk to the super independent. You may also need to contact your state and parenting training center. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

Sharon

Hello chuck my son is a senior and he is on a 504 plan my son was in a grade forgiveness class and just finished it just waiting on grades o be put in I ask the coach to please wait and give my son a chance he said no