When fourth grader Joey Furlong was hospitalized last week for a pre-brain surgery screening, he received an unexpected visitor: A New York City school teacher arrived at his bedside to administer a state test, despite his being hooked up to medical machines and IV’s, according to CBS affiliate WRGB.
Joey, who attends elementary school in the Bethlehem Central School District in Albany County, has life-threatening epilepsy that can only be stymied by medication. He was in the hospital to undergo a series of tests to determine if brain surgery might be a viable option, according to the local outlet.
“It just floored me that somebody is sending teachers to sick kids and expecting them to take a New York State test,” Joey's mother, Tami, said in a video interview with WRGB.
According to Tami, Joey’s father had been in the room and prevented Joey from taking the test.
Bethlehem Central School District had no involvement in the incident, the district’s communication specialist, Bill DeVoe, told The Huffington Post. He said the school had already arranged for Joey to make up the test on a later date.
“That teacher was sent by the state education department. We had no knowledge that the Furlongs were going to be bothered in such a fashion,” DeVoe said.
However, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where Joey was staying, said that the incident was a byproduct of state law.
Terry Lynam, a representative for the Long Island hospital, explained that the hospital employs five New York City schoolteachers who are required to offer instruction to children who have been in the hospital for more than three days. The hospital also administers state tests to children. However, neither instruction nor exams take place if a child is not healthy enough.
“If any child is unable to take an exam or receive any time of instruction because of their condition, there is a process where a physician signs a clearance form and that’s the end of it,” Lynam told HuffPost. “Nobody was insisting the child had to take the test.”
Diane Ravitch, a historian of education and research professor at New York University, wrote about the incident on her blog, calling it the “sickest testing story of all time." She noted that, “No child escapes testing. Even while they are waiting for brain surgery.”