To School Administrators, School Board Attorneys and Educators Who Fight Against My Child
To the school administrators, school board attorneys and the educators who cannot see past my daughter’s disability:
Saying no just because you can is not in my child’s best interest and ultimately serves no other purpose than to show the power you wield has consumed you and will only negatively affect your bottom line at the end of our battles.
Trying to save money at the expense of my daughter and her future is not OK. That’s why legislators and Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — to protect my child and every other child with a disability.
Know that I won’t back down, no matter how entrenched you become in fighting us every step of the way — you wouldn’t compromise on your own child’s safety nor bet against his future, and we certainly should not be expected to.
Have you ever met my child, spent a moment in her company, let her spirit touch you? I’m certain the answer is no. What makes you think you know anything about her at all, or are qualified to determine what service she would benefit from, or could be denied or what is appropriate for her?
Have you even read any of the reports the myriad of experts carefully compiled about my child? The Neuropsychologist’s, Board Certified Behavioral Analyst’s, Speech and Language Pathologist’s, the Occupational Therapist’s, the Physical Therapist’s? I imagine the answer is no. They may take up room in your file, if you even bothered to print them.
Do you know anything about my daughter? The name of her sister? What makes her happy? How much she struggles to communicate? That despite her struggles, her smile stretches a mile wide?
Have you ever taken a moment to consider what your life might be like if you or someone close to you were caring for a child with a disability? Might it make you think twice about your deplorable behavior and how you treat parents who are desperately seeking the best outcome for their child?
Have you ever calculated that the time, money and resources you foolishly wasted litigating against us could have easily paid for the services we requested in the first place, with several thousands of dollars remaining that could be allocated towards services for others?
What brought you to a career denying the most vulnerable children their basic civil and educational rights? And what keeps you there, is it the money, the power, greed? Can you honestly say you go home at night proud of your actions?
No matter your bullying, harassing and retaliatory tactics, we persevere. We are not going away, we are not moving, and my child will not be sequestered home, away from peers.
I understand all too well the constraints of balancing a budget, really I do, years of litigation come with a price.
It’s demoralizing and draining to beg, bargain and plead for a half hour extra of speech, only to end up with 15 minutes of group services. So too are the objectives put together by the “team” without any insight into my child’s individual needs that lack any and all parental input, probably copied from another child’s IEP.
Do you see my child as just every other child that you have encountered with the same or similar diagnosis? Do you tailor your therapeutic intervention based upon her individual needs or based upon outdated practices that are serving no benefit to her?
Do you make assumptions based upon the label that accompanies my child, erroneous assumptions such as she will never be at grade level with her peers? Do you treat her differently and less than based upon your false preconceived notions?
Do you put forth effort on her behalf, do you truly understand her strengths and weaknesses, or is she just one more child among your overburdened caseload?
Would you speak up for my child and others, or is the price too steep, the reward not great enough? Are you willing to go the distance; are you willing to even try? I may have less years of experience in the world of disability, being the parent of a young child, but I can tell you this: it took only an instant for me to stand up and realize that I can, already have and will make a difference in the life of my children.
What will it take for you?
Getty image by chameleonseye