Recently, it has come to AbleChild’s attention from a New York grandmother, who filed a report with AbleChild in September that a public school district in Brooklyn, NY does not feel that U.S. Law -Title 20 1232h, Protection of Pupil Rights (Hatch) Amendment applies to them. AbleChild has long endorsed this law and its complimentary supported amendment letter (Hatch) because both directly support informed consent rights regarding psychological testing in public schools throughout this nation.
Title 20 U.S. Code 1232h- Protection of Pupil Rights gives the power to the parent to refuse any survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family, or their beliefs. This Right to Refuse applies to all subjective psychological evaluations, surveys and questionnaires that are used to diagnose our children with a mental health disorder.
“Both Title 20 and Hatch give parents not only the right to make critical decisions regarding their children within education, but provides for safeguards to ensure that a parent can raise their children in the way they believe is appropriate, label and drug free”, said Patricia Weathers, AbleChild Cofounder and mother of two boys. Weathers went further by stating that, “Schools should not be allowed to make decisions regarding mental health services, psychiatric diagnoses or psychiatric drug “treatment” for children. Schools should stick to education. Parents always have the right to refuse any and all of these and should not be told they are “non compliant”. Parents have the right to choose as part of informed consent.”
“This grandmother reached out to AbleChild because her request to her grandson’s school for an educational evaluation to determine if he was in need of special services was denied. She was told that she was “non-compliant” when she refused the psychological portion of the evaluation on her grandson. She tenaciously advocated for her grandson’s educational needs by printing out both Title 20 and The Hatch Amendment and submitting them to her grandson’s school. As per her account of the matter, “The school seemed unaware of the law and uninterested in learning about my right to refuse the psychological portion of the evaluation. I had to insist that both the law and the amendment letter that I filled out were submitted into my grandson’s file because the school psychologist didn’t think that I had the right to put anything into his school file.”
AbleChild questions whether the school district is actually ignorant of the law or is banking on an uneducated parent/caregiver who doesn’t question authority or know his or her rights. Either way, this incident demonstrates that much more awareness needs to be given at both the educational and parental level on informed consent regarding mental health and education.