The call came in to our office shortly after lunchtime on the first day of school—not this year, but several years ago. It seems that the 15-year old had just showed up that morning—no phone call, no personal visit, no registration before that. Of course it’s chaos on the first day, so they just tossed the boy into some classes and planned to figure it out later.
Then the teacher marched him to the office after lunchtime, and charged him with urinating on the playground. Investigation ensued, which revealed that: 1. His family just moved here from somewhere in Central America; 2. He’s never attended school before—any kind of school; 3. He speaks no English and understands “poquito” at best. 4. He peed on the playground because he didn’t know there was an alternative, having not encountered indoor plumbing.
The district was calling because they wondered if they should classify this student as eligible for services under Section 504. The answer to that is: NO. This student is what I call WBFWR—Way Behind for Whatever Reason. He needs special help, but not special ed, and not 504 either.
Obviously this student needs a lot of assistance. I call kids like this WBFWR, but truthfully, it’s easy to figure out why this student is behind. He is 15 and never been to school. He is at a cultural disadvantage in our country. And even if he had been properly educated in a good Central American school, the language issue alone indicates that the student needs special attention.
But not special ed. Special education is for students who need special help because of a disability. There is no indication of a disability here. As for 504, it is designed to accommodate students who need accommodation due to a physical or mental impairment. Again, no indication of that here.
DAWG BONE: KIDS CAN BE WBFWR AND NOT NEED SPECIAL EDUCATION OR SECTION 504 SERVICES.