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    10 Aug 2016

    Today in Florida lawsuits: "My son shouldn't fail third grade just because he can't pass it"

    A group of Central Florida parents are planning to sue over a statute that allows test scores to decide whether third-graders can advance to the next grade. Gigi Callaghan, an Osceola County mother, says those test scores measure her son’s disability, not ability.
    Every night, her 8-year-old son, Gavin, picks out a book and reads, It’s part of the routine at the Callaghan home.
    Gavin has a diagnosis of language impairment and autism. At school, he’s a part of ESE, or the Exceptional Student Education program. Gavin now faces being held back due to not passing the English Language Arts Florida Standard Assessment, the FSA.
    “We know it’s not the right decision for the school to retain him. And it will harm our son for the rest of his life,” Callaghan said.
    Parents are turning to GoFundMe to fight the third-grade retention statute. They’re trying to raise funds to challenge the Florida Department of Education.
    “I believe that what the parents are trying to accomplish is that the child be permitted to go on to fourth grade and receive extra instruction on the reading component in order to catch up by the time they go to fifth grade,” said Kelvin Soto with the Osceola County School Board.
    So far, the page has raised about $15,000, efforts Callaghan hopes will mean something when Gavin goes back to class.
    “It’s not appropriate for ESE students to just be given the same thing all over again. That’s why we say promote him and do it well,” Callaghan said. “Promote him with the appropriate support and accommodations so that he will be successful in fourth grade.”
    The Department of Education would not comment on the possible lawsuit. They said some third-graders can be exempted from retention due to a “good cause exemption.” 

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