Bernard and Alice Kappe have complained to the Capital School District Board of Education about their special needs daughter Sarah, a fourth grader at South Dover Elementary School, not getting all the help she needed for the state standardized test.
In short, Sarah Kappe needed an aide to read the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System test to her, as allowed by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. But South Dover staff only read the answers to her, not the actual test, Alice Kappe told the school board in January.
"She has to look at the test and just stare at it, wait so many minutes and then the teacher will say, 'Are you ready?'" Alice Kappe said. "Then, she'll pick an answer just randomly. I mean, that's no way to take a test for a little, disabled child."
"It's an unfair assessment," Bernard Kappe said.
Alice Kappe added that she felt her daughter was being penalized for not being able to read.
"I mean, if you're blind you're provided with a braille reader," she said. "If you're deaf, you get a sign interpreter. We want a reader to be added for the special education student who can't read during the DCAS test."
Capital Board of Education member Matthew Lindell said he would not rest until this issue was resolved. In short, Lindell was frustrated that the state would comply with federal audits of Individualized Education Plans to ensure compliance on the part of schools only to see schools punished for providing accommodations for state tests that were allowed under IDEA and the federal government.
"My wife's a special ed teacher and I have students in my class who are just as frustrated as you," Lindell said. "And that's going to be my goal, to continue to try to fix this problem, starting with the issue at South Dover.
"It's not that your teachers or your principal want to deny you that right," he added. "It's much bigger than that with the state and federal guidelines. And I'm not going to rest until someone does something. I'll be talking to every single person and legislator to fix this."
All of Capital's schools met adequate yearly progress (AYP) except for South Dover Elementary School, who was penalized for its special education students not meeting state targets.
Lindell fired off a Jan. 19, 2013 letter to Gov. Jack Markell, Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, state Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and a slew of state legislators to reiterate his concerns regarding the state punishing those schools and students with special needs who have a reading accommodation in their Individualized Education Plan for DCAS.
"Why do you put our schools in the position of sacrificing a few students with special needs (not giving them the reading accommodation when they really need it) in order to meet a flawed AYP target?" Lindell wrote, in part. "Please make an effort to answer these questions, if not for me, for Sarah and the many other children and parents in this great state that have become collateral damage."
Page 2 of 2 - Capital School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tina Huff said the district was following up on the matter. But she declined to comment further due to confidentiality laws.