North Forsyth Middle School in Cumming, Georgia, forced the state mandated ‘high-pressure’ standardized test on a student with autism not once, but twice, ignoring pleas and warnings from the parent to exempt the child from such assessments. This begs the question, where do parental and individual rights end, and government control begins?
Justin Wheeler, an 8th grade special needs student at North Forsyth Middle School in Cumming, Georgia, went to school Wednesday with two letters in his hand to the school from his mom, and a note pinned to his shirt that read, “I refuse the CRCT. It is my right to refuse based on my parent’s wishes. The ACLU and media have been notified and sent evidence of your intent to violate my rights.”
These notifications from Justin’s mom, Stacy Lee Wheeler, also included repeated letters, phone calls and emails asserting her parental rights and individual rights to opt Justin out of Georgia’s State standardized tests.
“Anxiety is detrimental to my child’s health and wellbeing,” Wheeler said. “He internalizes stress and anxiety and it can come out as autistic ‘tics,’ or negative behaviors. It is my job, as a parent, to look out for my child’s best interest. And knowing how my child reacts and the type of pressures associated with standardized testing, I determined Justin’s participation was not only risky, but potentially damaging to him.”
Justin has been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (HFA), Sensory Processing Disorder, and verbal apraxia.
“When Justin is under stress he drowns out all the other sensory stimulation by creating his own. It’s involuntary on his part. You can literally see his emotional discomfort,” Wheeler continues. “His speech pattern comes in short bunny hops and it can be difficult to follow, if not unintelligible, at times. He holds his head, makes a noise and shakes his head, like he’s getting ready to take it off. At our last house he left hand prints on the front door and the sliding glass door…ran from the front to the back of the house and tagged them both, over and over and over and over again. I have good reason to be concerned for how my child reacts to the stress surrounding these tests.”
Justin, like other Georgia 8th graders, is required to pass the Georgia student assessment in order to advance to 9th grade. And Justin is hardly alone in responding emotionally to such high stakes, as many students express fear of failure, or shame of being held back.
Since there are federal grants tied to testing mandates, some parents and educators feel the practice is for purposes of collecting government money. The data collected from the standardized testing is also used for purposes of Common Core mandated reporting. None of these uses appear to be in the interest of children or academic achievement.
Justin had never taken a standardized test until recently. Wheeler learned after the fact that her son had taken the Georgia Writing Assessment without parental notification, or permission. She was outraged, and decided to make sure that her son would not participate in the rest of the assessments.
Politichicks has acquired numerous written correspondences between Wheeler and school administrators, as well as audio (below). Jeff Hunt, the Principal of North Forsyth Middle School, told Wheeler that she’d need to withdraw her child from public school to avoid standardized testing.
Read the rest of this PolitiChicks.tv article here: http://politichicks.tv/column/parents-met-police-told-kids-must-take-standardized-tests-whether-agree/#bA5axb407EvYkdBd.99
Now, Wheeler confirms that she has indeed contacted both media and the ACLU, as the note pinned to Justin’s shirt reads. This article confirms the media portion. But where is the ACLU?
If you want to help to find justice for Justin, as well as protect the individual rights of other children over government power-mongering, please join us in signing this petition by Parent Led Reform. This petition will be used to solicit legal assistance for the Wheelers, and other families whose parental and individual rights have been violated by The Georgia Department of Education and The State of Georgia.
This is an audio recording of Justin and his mom the first day she learns Justin was tested without her permission:
Second time Justin is tested, there is no question where his name tag is. However, since he started the test it will be scored and results counted against him.
Recorded conversation between Stacy Wheeler and Georgia Department of Education Associate Superintendent Melissa Fincher, Ph.D: