Parents accuse Ferguson-Florissant School District of withholding learning disability information

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FERGUSON, Mo. – Some parents in north St. Louis County are slamming the Ferguson-Florissant School District, saying officials kept them in the dark about their child’s learning disability. Now, he and his family are paying the price.

Shannon Hayslett says her son Ayden has been struggling with a reading disability. She says the Ferguson-Florissant school district knew about the problem for years and never told his mom and dad, who are both educators themselves.

They’ve been trying on their own to help their son every way they know how, but they say they got little help from the district.

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Hayslett says the district had screened their child for Dyslexia at least twice without informing his parents. They say they didn’t find out until three years after the first test that they found him at risk for Dyslexia.

“I’m blaming the school district if they have this information, and you know,” said Hayslett. “Why aren’t you sharing it?”

Ayden’s parents say he was first screened for Dyslexia during kindergarten when he was five years old. He was tested again in first grade. Now in the third grade, Ayden was recently screened again at eight years old.

All three times, the testing revealed that Ayden was “at risk” for Dyslexia. His parents say after his first two tests, the results were not shared.

“The school district has failed my son,” said his father Chris Lloyd. “He should be at a much higher reading level than he is. We worked with him, we’ve asked for things to work on with him, we asked for extra reading help, [and] we asked for extra assignments. Whatever we need, we’ve asked the district for it.”

His parents say the family didn’t get the help they needed from the district.

“We should have been a part of the team,” said Hayslett. “We should have known what’s happening, not them having information and not sharing it.”

The family got a lawyer and took the case to Missouri’s Administrative Hearing Commission.

“Every school district has an obligation under what’s called ‘Child Find,'” said the family’s attorney Diane Dragan. “Any child that’s suspected of a disability, [the district is] required to evaluate. The district refused to evaluate him despite a glaring suspicion of disability.”

Dragan said the district did a basic Dyslexia screener. A screener is a 10- to 15-minute test that can be done by a general education teacher.

“The law for ‘Child Find’ requires a full comprehensive evaluation done by a school psychologist,” said Dragan.

The You Paid For It team talked to Ferguson-Florissant Superintendent Dr. Joe Davis.

“We have a good process that we use our teachers work really hard to make sure parents are informed whenever students are given any kind of screener or assessments,” said Davis.

The administrative hearing commission decided that Ferguson-Florissant and the special school district “violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when they failed to evaluate [Ayden] in response to Shannon Hayslett’s January 4, 2023, request.” The decision goes on to say, “this failure resulted in a denial of a free and appropriate public education to the student.”

Ayden’s family wasn’t happy with the suggested remedy of 1,386 minutes of compensatory education. They now plan to take the case to federal court within the next three months.

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