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Lawmakers will consider special needs children in education accountability revamp

While her 11-year-old son Ethan lay dying last month, Andrea Rediske had to convince the boy’s school district he could not take the state tests.

Ethan’s teacher made daily visits to assess his progress — even when he was in hospice care. “Seriously?” Rediske wrote in a Feb. 4 email to Orange County School Board member Rich Roach.

“Why is Ethan Rediske not meeting his sixth-grade hospital-homebound curriculum requirements? BECAUSE HE IS IN A MORPHINE COMA. We expect him to go any day.”

The boy died three days later.

As state education officials work to overhaul the education accountability system, the plight of severely disabled students like Ethan and their teachers is gathering increasing attention in the halls of the Florida Capitol.

On Wednesday, the state teachers union released a 10-minute video showing Polk County teachers giving standardized tests to four students with severe disabilities.

Separately, a Pasco County teacher raised concerns about testing special-needs students in a letter to Superintendent Kurt Browning. Her words carried to the highest level of state government, capturing the attention of Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford.

“We need to do something about this for sure,” Weatherford wrote in an email to Browning last week.

Read more here.