Choice, Respect, and Cooperation

Let me introduce you to Suzy*, a 15-year-old in the 8th grade at her local middle school. She desperately wants to take driver’s education. The school told her parents that she cannot take the course because it's taught at the high school.

In the past, middle school students have take advanced classes at the high school. I was perplexed about the decision to deny Suzy access to driver's education. I did some research but found no state or local policies stopping Suzy from taking the class.

Suzy had not attended her own IEP meetings in the past. I attended this IEP meeting, with Suzy and her parents, as an advocate to be sure that Suzy's voice was heard. Teachers recognized improvement in Suzy’s effort and academics. Yet one thing remained the same. She struggled with organization! So much so that teachers were reluctant to let incomplete assignments leave the classrooms. The team discussed ways to help Susy with organization, such as a check in/check out system.

Finally, it was time to discuss Transition and what high school would look like. At this point, I asked about driver’s education and shared my research findings. No one at the table told Suzy she wasn’t allowed to take driver’s education.