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Mother claims her son who has a medical exemption will have to take state tests

Doreen Carson, a mother of a special needs child, says she was recently told that her child will have to take a state-standardized test this year, even though he has a medical exemption (Photo: Kelsie Metzgar)

HALIFAX Co., Va. (WSET) -- A local mother of a special needs child says she was recently told that her child will have to take a state-standardized test this year, even though he has a medical exemption.

"Their options were he takes the test; if he pass, he passes and if he fails, he fails," said Doreen Carson. "If he don't take the test, he'll fail. If I write a letter, telling them that he will not take the test, he will fail."

Carson doesn't plan on letting her son, Austen, take Virginia's standardized tests this year because he's not prepared.

Her son goes to Halifax County Middle School, who told her last week that her son, who has Autism, would have to take the test because requirements have changed.

He's never had to take one before, according to Carson, because of his medical exemption.

But, her bigger concern is that it should have been known in 2009 that the medical exemption par was invalid, that is was no longer in place.

Carson says she just found out her 8th grade son should have been taking the test throughout elementary school.

Now she wants to know why he never took it and who made, what she calls, a mistake.

"I feel that he could have been taught differently," Carson said. "He could have learned differently and still took the state test."

A Halifax County Middle School official said "everything is under review."

The Virginia Department of Education said that they cannot speak on individual students' cases, but can say that a special needs student's academic file determines whether they can take a test or not, not the commonwealth.

Carson says she will allow Austen to take future tests.

"Now had they told me, like in September, that would have given us time to prepare for the state testing," Carson said.

She said she's not sure what it means if her son fails the test this year.

According to the Virginia Department of Education's website, "state law requires that kids who fail all Standards of Learning tests in grades three to eight must receive appropriate remedial services as determined by the division."

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