When Kina King goes through the classwork her children bring home from school, she has a hard time telling which belongs to 5-year-old Danielle and which belongs to 16-year-old Jamie.
That’s because Jamie, a freshman at Wisconsin Career Academy in Milwaukee, reads at the level of a second-grader. Her writing, with its d’s and b’s reversed and halting attempts at self-expression, is at a third-grade level.
King said she repeatedly had asked Milwaukee Public Schools to evaluate whether Jamie had special needs since the girl was 5. But it wasn’t until Jamie failed first grade for the third time that the district determined that she suffers from cognitive delays and needs additional support.
The question of what MPS should do to compensate the students it has failed to place in special education in a timely manner is at the heart of the third phase in an ongoing class-action suit about how MPS serves special education students. Jamie Stokes is the lead plaintiff in that suit and testified during a weeklong trial that wrapped up in November.
“If they gave her the help she would have been better, not doing coloring books her sister in kindergarten is doing,” King said.