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Mom stands up to IPS district over autistic son’s education

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — La Tosha Walker is on a mission to make sure her son with autism is getting the education he deserves in Indianapolis Public Schools.

She shared a report from an Indiana Department of Education’s investigation with I-Team 8. The report showed her son missed out on 5,242 instructional minutes in 2022.

Her son Tyrese Walker is enjoying the first days of summer break, but his fifth-grade year was not enjoyable in part because of what happened.

The Department of Education investigation found that Tyrese’s teachers at Edison School of the Arts removed him from class 114 times over 71 days of school.

La Tosha said, “Most of the list says, ‘talking,’ ‘class disruption.’ Those are daily activities that go on in school.”

When Tyrese was taken out of class he was taken to a room in the guidance learning center. “In GLC, you do nothing but sit there and whatever they have you do, but he’s not getting his work, so those are minutes of his education that he’s not receiving,” La Tosha said.

La Tosha told I-Team 8 her son being taken out of class violated his individualized education plan because he has autism. “My son’s autism is sensory, so, with that sensory, sometimes the room could be too loud. It could be too much going on and then it just overstimulates him, so what comes out as being a disruption to some people may be just something he’s trying to work through.”

Walker has a binder full of documents related to her fight to make sure her son is getting the education he deserves. It included the eight-page report from the investigation by the Department of Education.

The report said that her son’s “IEP did make some provision for removal to the GLC, the numbers of such removals and time the student was removed from instruction services was excessive, leading to a denial of free appropriate public education (FAPE).”

The Department of Education told I-Team 8 the report is not finalized. Both sides involved have a chance to ask for reconsideration.

La Tosha acknowledged to I-Team 8 that her son is not perfect, but said that should not prevent him from getting his education. “If my son is doing something and he needs some discipline, send him, but send him with his work. They’re not sending him with work.”

La Tosha suggested any parent with a special needs child should brush up on Article 7, the IPS special education rules, so they can stick up for their kids’ education. “Article 7 is there to back the parents up. You just have to take the time to read it, or find somebody that can help you. We’ve got to start holding these schools accountable for the services our children are supposed to have.”

Walker told I-Team 8 she’s working with IPS on the plan to get her son the 5,242 minutes of education he missed last year.

I-Team 8 reached out to IPS via email and phone for a comment about this situation, but it did not respond by Tuesday afternoon