Pam Stewart, Is that your final answer?

If I were to send a letter to Commissioner, Pam Stewart regarding Madison Drew, this is what I would say.

Commissioner Pam Stewart,

Would you like to try again with your decision for an expedited hearing for Paula Drew’s daughter, Madison Drew? She’s a 15 year old girl who has cerebral palsy and cannot speak. I’m sure you’ve read the story in the Washington Post. Madison suffers from a number of conditions related to her condition and takes several medications daily to prevent seizures, which can affect her cognitive abilities, as written by her doctor.

Not only that, according to the Herald Tribune,

“Maddy can answer yes or no questions with hand gestures, though they are easy to misinterpret because of her limited and somewhat uncontrolled movements, Drew says. Even as her mom, Drew sometimes isn’t sure which answer is being given. And sometimes Maddy answers questions incorrectly on purpose, just for fun. Certainly she would not take a standardized test seriously, her mother says, even if she understood some of the questions and the multiple choice answers.

The odds of a test giver reliably understanding any alleged hand-gestured answers are slim, she says.”

Commissioner Stewart, according to the letter sent, you stated The Department of Education received a request from Ms. Paula Drew February 26 for an expedited hearing pursuant to section 1008.212F.S. which states, “The Department of Education shall arrange a hearing with the Division of Administrative Hearings, which must be commenced within 20 school days after the parent’s request for the expedited hearing. The administrative law judge at the division shall make a determination within 10 school days after the expedited hearing. The standard of review for the expedited hearing is de novo, and the department has the burden of proof.”

I also noted your decision was based on Florida Statute. 1008.22 (10) F.S.  which you claim does not provide for an administrative hearing to review your decision. I find it interesting that you have been advised there is no other mechanism for an administrative hearing, and that your decision is final.

Please see this…

pstweartblog1

What I see, is that the Statute you are speaking of is to be considered in addition to, not instead of F.S. 1008.212.

You claimed that your decision was final. Perhaps you can explain how the second law states that a parent is not entitled to an expedited hearing? I would really like to understand that more clearly. Here is a copy of the letter you sent:

pstewartblog2

pstewartblog3

According to this Florida Statute, 1008.212(5) could it be possible that the officials that helped guide you to make this decision were in violation of Florida State Law? Is it possible that you could be in violation of your duty as Commissioner of Education, by not allowing an expedited hearing which must be commenced within 20 school days after the parent’s request?

Unless you can state the law that pertains precisely how you are coming to the conclusion that you can be the sole judge of a decision on this magnitude, this case will escalate nationwide as it continues to get more and more coverage.

For now, I’ll let the people be the judge.
In the meantime, thank you for helping us all understand the law a little bit better.

Sincerely,
Parent Advocate,
Laura McCrary

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