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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Parents of a boy with Asperger's syndrome are embroiled in a dispute with their son's school over how he should be instructed.
Taylor Tenbrink, 11, has been diagnosed as a "genius" but is failing every one of his classes at Vista Heights Middle School. His parents say he needs to be in an individualized special education program. The school says he doesn't qualify.
Taylor's parents, Robin and Joel Tenbrink, said they saw their son's grades drop when he enrolled in the Alpine School District last year. The family recently moved from Idaho to Utah. Taylor excelled at his previous school, his parents say.
An evaluation by a pediatric psychologist determined Taylor has anxiety and depression brought on by Asperger's. The psychologist also found that Taylor is a genius.
“I can see my child who is very gifted and has very many talents, and this can be a positive thing, but it comes at a cost,” Robin Tenbrink said.
Because of the Asperger's and his high IQ, Taylor has a hard time interacting with others, especially teachers.
“I didn’t understand the instructions correctly, but I can’t really go back and ask them,” the boys said.
His parents asked the district for an individualized education program, but the school says the student must qualify as special needs.
“It’s a three-prong test. One, the child has to have a learning disability. No. 2, that disability does need to impede their learning or access to the curriculum. And No. 3, that the disability that interferes with them learning can be addressed in no other way than to give them specialized instruction,” said Alpine School District spokesman John Patten.
Vista Heights Middle School officials said they couldn't comment specifically on Taylor's case but said the district has worked with the family. Robin Tenbrink said she feels like the district has disregarded her son's diagnoses.
The family has filed a lawsuit against the Alpine School District. In April, they will have a four-day hearing where experts will be questioned to determine if Taylor qualifies as special needs.
In the fall, Taylor will enroll in college courses, but he wants to continue to take his electives at Vista Heights.
“I like seeing my friends,” he said.