New Hampshire educator Laura Spratt wrote to the State Board of Education this week about the manifest educational hardship (MEH) statute because the public hearing on the new MEH rules is tomorrow, December 14, from 1:00 to 1:30 and she wanted to get these thoughts into the public record for the board’s consideration.
Our department of education has been proposing changes, many of which are reflected in legislation proposed for the 2018 session, that would turn the MEH statute into a backdoor to universal school choice paid for by local New Hampshire taxpayers.
But here’s Ms. Spratt’s great letter about how her school district applied the MEH statute the way it was meant to be used.
Dear Board Members:I wish to tell you about a student who benefitted from RSA 193:3. I was one of his teachers.Nine years ago, a behaviorally challenged sixth grade student, on an IEP because of his behavior difficulties, was making progress on behavioral and educational goals. As a second grade student, he was unable to control his temper or behave appropriately in class when his frustration with learning to read and write overwhelmed him. He was identified as a student with special needs and given several years of intensive instruction to help modify his violent responses to frustration in school. As a fifth grade student, he slowly returned to the regular education classroom, one subject at a time, until he showed he could successfully control his outbursts to frustration and be a successful and appropriately behaved student in a typical classroom. He was marginally accepted by his peers. Most of the fifth grade students in his class remembered his “scary” outbursts as a second grade student.By sixth grade, it was clear this student was experiencing a social/emotional hardship at our school. It was difficult for him to make friends with any of his classmates, even though his behavior had improved since second grade.Our school is a K-8 school, and this student faced two more years of being tolerated by his peers, but not fully accepted. Our team of teachers, special educators, the school counselor, school principal, our Director of Special Services, and this student’s parents made the decision to give him a chance at another school district, at which our graduated 8th grade students attended high school (for an agreed upon tuition).This young man had no history with the next town’s students. They did not know about his previous second grade outbursts. He essentially got a chance to start over as a 7th grader in a different school community. Once this student attended high school, he was reacquainted with students who’d known him from elementary school, however, because he had two years of junior high public education at a nearby school, he was able to make new friends and reconnect with classmates who could now see him in a more positive light. This young man successfully graduated from high school.This student is the kind of student who needed to be placed at another school with a mutual agreement between school districts. The transfer to the other school was necessary for this young man to be educationally, socially, and emotionally successful.Please do not change the interpretation of this law!Respectfully submitted,Laura Spratt, M.S.