In today's Courier Journal (Louisville, KY), is a follow up to the story of Matthew Montgomery, his mother Jeanie, and an Oldham County school. During a single fall semester, Matthew was placed in a small time out room (or closet, depending on whom you ask) nearly eighty times. Sometimes he was locked in. Sometimes he came home from school with cuts and bruises. In one case he was taken to a hospital where doctors suspected abuse. This is called education.
Mrs. Montgomery, quite understandably, decided to homeschool her son. The school has been clear: Matthew is to return to classes immediately. On May 8, Jeanie received a written warning, a final notice that she and her husband will face legal action unless they comply.
Could the problem be that the Montgomerys have not followed the correct procedures? No, that's not it...
From the Courier Journal:
To receive home services, state law requires a signed physician's statement that the child's condition "prevents or renders inadvisable attendance at school."Montgomery said she has provided two such letters from Matthew's pediatricians, the last one asking for more time for an independent psychological examination of the child. A March 28 letter from Dr. Jeff Wampler, with All Children Pediatrics, cited Matthew's autism and other health issues, including allergies and gastrointestinal problems, as a reason for requesting temporary homebound services.On an application the school requested, Wampler also cited investigation for abuse at school."In a follow-up letter to Oldham school officials on May 1, Dr. Jeffrey Burton said he believes Matthew may be suffering from fear and stress over his experiences at school and requested time for a psychologist's evaluation."I would encourage you to allow Matthew's parents more time and latitude before you start any type of legal proceeding," Burton wrote. But Coorssen said the school system does not believe the physicians' letters adequately detailed Matthew's medical problems."Those are just blanket statements you can get from anybody," she said.
Now, I'm not an expert in this area, far from it. But it would seem logical that recurring bruises and abrasions, isolation for extended periods of time, these sorts of things in themselves are the "conditions" clearly making this young man's attendance at the school "inadvisable." Logic, though, has no place in the paper factory. (Please read this post at Ed's Autism Page. It's important.)
The lessons Matthew has learned from his school are not the kind that need more reinforcement. There will be plenty more chances for him to learn about cruelty, incompetence and intolerence.
"These are not easy cases, believe me," said Fendley (the county attorney in charge of truancy cases). "This autism situation is going to be a difficult one."