Parents of special needs students say Chesapeake school system is failing their kids


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Angela Turpin lifts several three-ring binders, each about three inches thick, onto her dining room table. They’re filled with emails and documents concerning her daughter Julia, 11. She and Turpin’s other two children all have some form of dyslexia.

“Their mind is wired differently,” Turpin said.

In addition to Julia’s dyslexia, Turpin says she has a specific learning disability in reading, writing and math.

“I’ve brought data [to Chesapeake Public Schools officials] from two different psychologists who have diagnosed the specific learning disability,” she said.

But Turpin says CPS won’t even recognize her daughter’s dyslexia.

“They don’t acknowledge it, at all, and they won’t even say the word,” she said.

10 On Your Side reached out to the school system for comment, but an official says they can not comment on specific student matters because of privacy laws.

Turpin is more than a concerned mother with kids who have special needs. She’s trained to be a full-time personal assistant in special ed — a job she had until recently in the Chesapeake system.

“Dyslexic children need a very specific reading intervention program,” she said.

Turpin says Chesapeake uses the Fountas & Pinnell reading programs for dyslexic students, which she claims are not scientifically-based. Based on her own experience and research, she has recommended that CPS use the Orton Gillingham or Wilson programs.

“They are failing our kids big-time,” Turpin said. “There is so many children out there who are not being identified.”

Daniel Remigio’s son, 11-year-old Daniel, Jr., has more profound challenges.

“My son is severely autistic, non-verbal. He requires a special assistant at all times, he elopes, and he has no sense of danger,” he said.

Remigio and his family moved here over the summer from Texas after he landed a job with Smithfield Foods. Everything looked good at Deep Creek Central Elementary, until he and his wife saw the setting for 11-year-old Daniel.

“She wanted to cry. She told me ‘this is no place for my son and we’re not placing him here,'” he said.

Their son is at risk for elopement — essentially running away.

“He needs to be in a secure area where he doesn’t elope, because at the first chance, he will. This is what we’ve been trying to explain to Chesapeake Public Schools,” he said.

With no barrier between the classroom and Shipyard Road — and a retention pond nearby — Remigio says their son would have been at grave risk.

“If he doesn’t get hit by a car because he doesn’t have a sense of danger, he may end up in the retention pond right across the street,” Remigio said.

They never enrolled Daniel at the school. Instead, his mother has home-schooled him for the entire semester. Next week, the Remigios are moving back to Texas.

Turpin is appealing her daughter’s due process complaint that she has filed with the Virginia Department of Education in Richmond.

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