12-Year Old Dismissed From Private School After Leukemia Battle
Credit: Daily Kos
April 25, 2015

Reason number umpty-zillion why our public schools are so necessary. Via Daily Kos, the story of a Michigan student dismissed from her private Catholic school for excessive absences racked up while she fought leukemia.

Rose McGrath, a 12-year-old Michigan girl has spent nearly 3 years fighting for her life. She's in recovery, but still dealing with the physical effects of leukemia treatments. Although she has missed a lot of school, her mother says she was still going to pass her core classes and they were stunned by a recent letter from the school:

The letter addressed concerns regarding Rose's attendance and academic performance, and stated that Rose had been dismissed from St. Joseph Middle School."I didn't do anything wrong, but they still got rid of me," Rose said.

St. Joseph Middle School administrators defended the decision:

"These were extraordinary circumstances, but so many accommodations were made we felt eventually it became a point where we really had to help Rose, by being able to make sure that she was getting the assistance that she needed and to learn," said Father John Fleckenstein, with Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools.But the McGraths say the school has failed their child."The accommodations which were made were woefully inadequate for a child with such a serious diagnosis," said Rose's father Tom McGrath.

Public schools would have been required to create an individual plan for Rose, accommodating her special needs and eventually helping her to move back into the mainstream as she recovered. But private schools -- particularly church schools -- are not under the same obligations. In fact, they're not required to follow any of the rules which guard the rights of disabled children to receive a free appropriate public education.

That's the legal part. But it seems so immoral to toss a child out of school for absences when they're fighting a life-or-death battle with cancer.

As Rose's mother said, "t's not like she's out at the mall having fun, she's in her bed, sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain. she's not having fun, she's sick. she'd be at school if she could."


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