Autistic student not allowed to graduate under Georgia law
An autistic boy, Sinclair Coffer, a senior from Fulton County, Ga., is being denied his diploma although he had good grades. The only problem is with his math. Coffer has not been able to pass the math exam because he keeps forgetting the steps.
reports that the 17-year-old boy got high grades in English and history, but he has a problem with math. His math disability is complicated by the Georgia education law that requires all students to pass math to earn their diploma.
His mother, Linda Coffer, explained: "Once he starts it (math), and he learns it, he can do it. But when you walk away, he forgets the steps." According to The Blaze
, his mother said: “We’ve gotten a private tutor. He’s taken classes that are offered by the school in summer and throughout the school year.”
Coffer has taken the math exam five times, but he has failed each time.
reports that Coffer received the news that he would not be graduating just a week before the North Springs Charter graduation. According to Fox News
, Coffer lamented: "I won't be able to graduate. I can walk, but I can't graduate."
Coffer is autistic and state laws allow for students with disabilities to apply for waiver. The waiver allows the state board of education to vote on whether or not to allow the waiver applicant graduate. Officials at the North springs Charter, Fulton County, Ga, are aware of Coffer's diagnosis, but the board denied Cofffer the waiver and have not explained why.
According to The Blaze
, a state board of education spokesman said federal law blocks him from discussing Coffer's case. He said:“I can’t give you a ‘why’ answer because, one, it’s protected by FERPA Law and two, the state board votes, and all 13 have individual opinions as to why they vote a certain way.”
Coffer's mother complained that “With the graduation rate so low, they want to hold back a student that is worthy of graduation, and it’s just not fair."
Meanwhile, the state department of education has changed the law that requires that all seniors pass the math exam, but the law will not take effect until next school year and Coffer would be unable to benefit from it.
Coffer's sister, Capri Coffer, said: "It hurts my heart because he is such a good person. And for him, not to graduate and not to be able to pursue his dreams, it's really just an injustice."
reports that Coffer nurses an ambition of directing for the big screen, but he must graduate from high school before he can pursue his dream. He said: "I want to go to a film school and learn how to make movies."
But Coffer is not the only one who will not be graduating. According to state officials, last year 16 percent of students failed the math exam.