Mom: School discriminated against disabled son by not allowing him on a field trip

Published: Feb. 7, 2018 at 3:26 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2018 at 2:08 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Kaneohe mother's lingering dispute with her disabled son's high school flared up again on Tuesday when he missed the bus for a field trip.

Linda Elento said it was a reminder of her long battle to prevent discrimination by the state Department of Education.

"I've been trying hard to get him included in regular programs and outings and learning in a normal way," Elento said.

Jason Elento, 17, is a special education student at Kailua High School.

He spent Tuesday playing basketball at Kaneohe District Park when instead, he should have been on a field trip to Waikiki.

Elento said the school initially said he couldn't go because of his disabilities, but she knew that was against the law so she fought for his rights.

"I worked with a lot of staff members last week trying to get the yes and the go ahead and trying to get the supports in place," she said.

The DOE eventually overturned its decision and said Elento could go on the field trip under certain conditions, including not being late for the bus.

Elento said when they arrived at the high school Tuesday morning, the bus was not there, so she parked and waited.

Ten minutes had passed and two aides who were assigned to help Jason during the field trip informed her that the bus was at the back side of the school.

When she rushed to get him there, the bus had left. "The bus pulled away without our son," she said.

Elento said she insisted on driving him to Waikiki herself, but the school wouldn't allow it.

She said it's just one of her many battles with the DOE.

"My son has been denied to go on field trips before because he's disabled and it's not apart of his special education plan," said Elento.

Due to privacy laws, the DOE couldn't provide many details, but in an email said the "school went out of their way to communicate the requirements multiple times for this field trip with students and parents, including when the bus would be leaving to avoid students missing the bus/field trip."

Elento admits it may have been a breakdown in communication, but that ultimately, DOE workers need more training on how to deal with special ed students.

"That starts with inviting them on the field trip to begin with," Elento said.

MORE: Hawaii Department of Education's resources on disabled students' rights

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