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School won't recognize 11-year-old's special needs, parents say

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Taylor Tenbrink isn’t your typical seventh-grader.

Taylor has been labeled a genius, but he’s failing all his classes.

Taylor’s parents, Robin and Joel Tenbrink, said that their son excelled at his last school, but his grades dropped after they moved to Utah from Idaho and enrolled him in school in the Alpine School District last year.

Because of the dramatic drop, the Tenbrinks began looking for answers. An evaluation by a pediatric psychologist determined Taylor has anxiety and depression brought on by Asperger's syndrome. The psychologist also determined 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 extremely high IQ, Taylor has a hard time interacting with others, especially with teachers.

“I didn’t understand the instructions correctly, but I can’t really go back and ask them,” Taylor said.

Taylor's parents asked the district for an individualized education program, but whether or not Taylor qualifies is up for debate. The school says the student must qualify as having special needs.

“It’s a three-prong test. One, the child has to have a learning disability; number two, that disability does need to impede their learning or access to the curriculum; and number three, that the disability that interferes with them learning can be addressed in no other way than to give them specialized instruction,” said John Patten, Alpine School District spokesman.

The school couldn't comment specifically on Taylor's case, but said the district has worked with the family.

However, Robin Tenbrink said she feels like they've disregarded her son's diagnoses.

In the fall, Taylor will enroll in college courses, but he wants to continue to take his electives at Vista Heights Middle School.

“I like seeing my friends,” Taylor said.

But unless he gets the help he needs, he might just graduate from college and fail middle school.

The Tenbrink 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 to get specialized instruction.


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Devon Dolan


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