Teen Finishes Classes, But Can't Graduate

Student with learning disability says district failed to properly administer TAKS test

A North Texas teenager with a learning disability blames school administrators for not allowing her to graduate for the second year in a row.

Stormie Sheffield, 18, of Fort Worth, finished her necessary classwork last year after just three years at the Watson Learning Center, she said.

The school is located in northwest Fort Worth, but is part of the Saginaw-Eagle Mountain School District.

But Sheffield didn’t graduate because she could not pass the math TAKS test, she said.

"I kept telling them…that if I get it read to me orally, I have a chance to pass it,” she said. "And they kept saying, 'Next time we'll do it that way.'"

Sheffield said her disability is similar to dyslexia. She said she has difficulty with written tests but can better understand if they are read to her.

Her mother said she gave paperwork from her former district to the Saginaw school several years ago that documented her disability, but the school lost the documents, she said.

"(They) lost the paperwork," said Mary Shuffield. "And nobody bothered to tell me her paperwork was missing until she failed the math TAKS test the third time."

Stormie Sheffield spent the last year trying to re-take the test several times, but she said the district still never read it to her.

Her mother said she complained repeatedly.

"I said, 'I've heard this countless times, and still it’s not being done.'" Mary Shuffield said. "I said, 'This is absurd.'"

A spokesman for Saginaw-Eagle Mountain school district, Tammy Castleberry, declined to talk about Shuffield's case specifically, but said that, in general, "If any student hasn't met local and state requirements, we don't allow them to participate in commencement ceremonies."

Stormie Sheffield said school administrators have admitted they "dropped the ball" in meetings with her and suggested she get her high school equivalency degree, or GED, instead.

She said she wants her diploma.

"I want something from the school I went to, where I put in all those working hours,” she said.

Her mother said school administrators should have let her attend graduation ceremonies with her class Thursday night and later allow her to re-take the TAKS test with it properly administered.

"My child is not asking for a lot," Mary Sheffield said. "She’s asking for a walk across that stage."

Stormie Sheffield said she is frustrated but still hopes to pass the test and graduate.

"What's the point of working so hard if you're in a school district that's not going to help you?" she said.

Contact Us