Special needs kids spend day bowling

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SARASOTA--For the special needs students of Oak Park School, an afternoon of bowling gives them a chance to just be themselves.

"If our kids don't have adequate etiquette, it doesn't really matter, we take care of our own," said Synndii Ford, a parent.

It's a welcome break for parents, too. Some of whom have recently been challenging the state over the FCAT test.

"For our school we're just trying to get our kids socially and physically able to be active community members," said Ford, "and those things aren't the type things that FCAT grades for."

But according to state law, all kids, even those who are non-verbal and confined to wheel chairs, must take the test.

It's why Oak Park got an "F" in the eyes of state education officials last year, and is on it's way to a second "F" this year.

"What they're trying to do is so demoralizing, it's almost inhumane, they're actually forcing our students to take a test, that they're going to set up to fail," said parent Debbie Ezelle, who took her fight to state officials last week.

The solution they suggested left her in disbelief.

"The states means of follow-up is to send a team of representatives to teach our teachers to become better teachers to make our children more proficient," said Ezelle.

Parents say when it comes to special needs teaching, Oak Park is getting excellent results, but that's not reflected on a test designed to advance learning.

"FCAT is for education, ours is more for just growing up and being able to be an active member of society," said Ford.

And knowing that any change has to come from state legilators, parents are vowing to keep this fight rolling.

"We're not going to remain silent and willingly accept the "F" knowing that our students will not pass this test," said Ezelle.