FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – A Frisco father is considering legal action after he says his special needs son was suspended from school despite federally-mandated protocols.
Mark Clay, a Dallas pediatric cardiologist, lives in Frisco with his 7-year-old son, Isaac, who has been diagnosed with ADHD.
Dr. Clay says he has always encouraged Isaac to be in a mainstream learning environment, a right protected under provisions set by federal law. “Too many children are being placed in Special Education, too many people are being placed in alternative school programs,” he said.
While Isaac has previously had some class disruption issues, last week he was suspended from school for allegedly throwing a pair of scissors and hitting another student. The boy, who says it was an accident, was removed from the class and his father was called.
Clay claims his son was locked alone in a classroom until the he could drive to the school from his Dallas practice. He was so upset that by the time he arrived to pick up Isaac, that the school had called police as a precaution.
Both police and school officials confirm a School Resource Officer was called to the school for a potentially “irate” parent.
Among other things, Clay is worried his son’s image is being hurt. “His privacy has been violated. I feel he has been stigmatized. I think it’s been escalated unnecessarily, based on the relationship we had previously.”
For several months the Clay family and the school had created daily learning plans for Isaac and the school had reported back to Clay’s parents on his progress. Now, Mark Clay worries the school is trying to push Isaac into an alternative school to ease its workload.
Frisco ISD administrators confirmed much of Dr. Clay’s story: that Isaac was removed from class for disciplinary reasons over some scissors, but they deny he was ever locked in a room by himself. They also claim they have a right to determine what learning environment is safest for Isaac, as well as other students.
Melanie Watson is a children’s special education advocate not connected to the Clay issue, but who nonetheless frequently represents parents in disputes with schools over ‘mainstreaming’ young students with potential learning disabilities. “The law specifically says the child should be educated in the least restrictive environment and that my understanding is that’s with his peers—his non-disabled peers,” she explained.
Watson adds the best result is for all parties to come to mutual agreement, so “everybody [can] work together as a team in the best interest of the child, not an administrator to say ‘You’re out of here’ or a parent to go in and be demanding, you know? Everybody work together.”
Dr. Clay says he’s willing to fight for what he considers Isaac’s right to a ‘mainstream’ education. “Our child has been displaced, police have been involved, he’s being suspended,”he said frustrated. “We are seeking to look at legal resources to make sure his rights have not been violated, as we suspect.”
Clay met with Frisco ISD officials last Friday and both parties agreed to meet after spring break to determine if Isaac should go to alternative school or perhaps just be reassigned to another first grade classroom at Allen Elementary.
Meanwhile, Clay has filed an online complaint against the school with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging the school deprived him of his rights as a student with learning disabilities.