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Our 15-year-old son, diagnosed with Dyscalculia and Dyslexia is being forced to take a second math course in high school as an elective because he scored at Academic Warning in math on state assessments. In so doing, he will lose one of his two electives and have to choose between Band and Study Skills. Losing electives is detrimental to his success in the school setting, in our opinion. What are his rights and how do we advocate on his behalf in this situation.

We would like for this course to be his math elective instead of free choice elective if it is so important for him to pass the state assessments. Surely we aren’t the only parents in this situation.


Dear Cathy,

I am unable to determine from your question enough information to fully answer it. However, if your son has been identified with a learning disability in math, it may be appropriate for the IEP team to revisit his math services and develop a more appropriate and effective math program, rather than have him take two periods of math.

While the rules in relation to state tests vary from state to state, the IEP team generally has some authority to provide for individual accommodations and/or deviations from normal requirements to address a child’s needs and the schedule and test accommodations that are necessary as a result of their disability.

As to the issue of a math class vs. electives, the IDEA/special education law does not address a specific entitlement to electives. However, Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. One might argue that it is discrimination based on his disability to prevent him from participating in normal electives due to his math problems, particularly if there was a problem with the adequacy of the math instruction.

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