One Bertie County woman said the school district is failing to provide her special needs daughter a quality education as required by law.
Tassie Hathaway’s daughter, Angel, is blind and autistic. She used to attend the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, but circumstances forced the family to move back to Bertie County.
Since then, Hathaway said the school system has failed to live up to state and federal guidelines mandating that even children with disabilities have the right to an education.
“She needs to be accommodated because she is human just like everybody else,” Hathaway said. “She’s just blind, she’s got some more disabilities, but she needs to be accommodated, and she needs to be accommodated every day.”
Schools systems use an individualized education program, or IEP, to help plan out the accommodation special needs children will receive.
In a statement to 9 On Your Side, a Bertie County Schools spokesperson said,”The IEP is developed through a team process, consisting of a group of educators who are knowledgeable about the child and the child’s disability, as well as the parent. That team is responsible for developing, reviewing and revising the IEP for a child with a disability.”
The statement goes on to say, “special education teachers and related service providers have received specialized training to qualify them to implement IEPs and to provide services to all students with disabilities and needs that range from visual and hearing impairments to behavioral and emotional disorders and beyond.”
Angel’s IEP said that she would receive 90 minutes each week with a teacher specializing in education with blind children. However, Hathaway said that teacher isn’t showing up for the required time, nor is it enough.
“She says she’s coming in 90 minutes, well she’s not doing 90 minutes with my daughter. I go out there to the school to work with her, to be with her, and she’s not there.”
The school’s spokesperson said they provide any and all resources to help children with disabilities. However, Hathaway believes her daughter is falling through the cracks.
“She couldn’t help her condition. God made her just like he made everybody else, and he made her so she could get an education too.”
Hathaway went through a due process complaint with the school system in 2014, but that complaint was dismissed. She said she didn’t know her rights at the time, but plans to file another complaint this year.
She also has contacted the Civil Rights Office and the local and state chapter of the NAACP.