Inadequacies In Special Education Accommodations In Tennessee Public Schools Lead Parents To Homeschool

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The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Issues with special education in Tennessee’s public schools continue to push more parents to opt to homeschool their children.

Knox County is just one of the many who have received multiple complaints from parents over the past year, seeking more supports for special needs students and asking administrators to lessen the gaps for those children.

One of those students is 7-year-old William Rose, the son of Robert and Jennifer Rose. The family talked to Knox News about their months-long struggle to advocate for William’s needs as a special-needs student at Beaumont Magnet Academy. William is diagnosed with autism, anxiety, depression, and ADHD.

William was a student at the school until October, when his parents decided to pull him out and homeschool him instead. 

Jennifer had spent the last year working with a group of parents to push for children with autism to be provided with access to applied behavior analysis therapy, along with additional accommodations. 

However, other issues began to occur that concerned William’s parents. Jennifer was aware that William began to have seizures at school. Those seizures present themselves as William freezing up for a moment, or at time, for a few minutes. Jennifer says she was not always told about specific episodes.

Robert also stated that the parents were not notified when William fell off a stage at school. They only found out after a school employee that they were only acquaintances that mentioned it to them.

“We fear what we don’t know,” Robert said. 

William’s parents say they counted on the school to let them know what was happening with him because he has issues with short-term memory.

They were also concerned that William was not being monitored to ensure that he was eating enough at school.

“He was on his way to being on a feeding tube,” she stated. Now that he is homeschooled, he has returned to a normal, healthy weight.

When asked about the situation, Knox County Schools spokesperson Carly Harrington said that privacy laws would not allow them to provide comment on a particular student.

“KCS is committed to providing a school environment that protects and promotes the health and well-being of all students and provides them with the services necessary to receive an appropriate education,” Harrington said.

She also noted that if “a student has a medical issue at school, parents are always contacted.”

Statistics from the Tennessee Department of Education show that approximately 16% of students in Knox County receive special education services. Jennifer spoke to the Knox County School Board about her issues before they pulled their son from the district. 

“We’re here to help. We want to support. We don’t want to fight,” she told them.

Superintendent Jon Rysewyck says an attorney has been hired to hold the district accountable, while a task force identified 45 specific areas for improvement in educating those students.

The Rose family says they will continue to homeschool their son as long as they reside in Knox County.

“I’ve seen what Knox County Schools does,” Jennifer said.

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