(a) The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause has a substantive component that “provides heightened protection against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests,” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720, including parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children, see, e.g., Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651. Pp. 5—8.
South Carolina appears to have ignored this fact with regard to two cases where parents requested their children not participate in standardized testing.
Gretchen Herrera's son has a complicated medical condition, which is exacerbated by testing regimes. His medical team recommended he not be tested as it puts his health at risk. The request was denied, Mrs. Herrera allowed testing, and after the first day of testing, his health was negatively impacted. If a parent had neglected the health and well-being of their child, they'd find themselves in court with the government stepping in to protect the child. In this case, the government is endangering the child and ignoring the parent. Grumpy Educators reported her situation here. She has taken her request all the way to Washington D.C., and her battle continues this year.
Sharon Johnson's son has a complicated medical condition, and was treated in "an outpatient day treatment to stabilize children with severe emotional and/or behavioral problems. Among other criteria, admitted children must have demonstrated behavior serious enough to jeopardize the safety of others." Upon completion of treatment, he enrolled in public school and slated for standardized testing. In spite of a written medical recommendation that "he was mentally unable to be tested", South Carolina insists if a child can attend school, the child can be tested.
Ms. Johnson believes it is discriminatory to "require mentally unable students to take the exam when physically unable students are exempt, and she's filed a federal Office of Civil Rights complaint to that end." Her case is in process. Read more here.
District officials said this was not a question of fairness to disabled students, but rather following state and federal laws. The school district attorney put it this way:
"It's about measuring the school and district performance," Emerson said. "That's the way the standards are applied."
In the 1925 U.S. Supreme Court decision Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the finding included:
The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.
Is the State endangering the health and well-being of these students by ignoring medical recommendations?