Updated 4/20/99---The Meeting / A Fate Made For Us!
Today is Wednesday, April 14. I went to a scheduled meeting today at the Children and Youth Center that was no choice for me. Our probation officer, Mr. Davis (part of the board of Adelphi), the board, plus Children and Youth people
all took place in this meeting. I had 2 Intensive Case Managers there and a friend. My son's probation officer, and Mr. Davis, the principal, are set and determined to make my son go to Adelphi.
There is nothing worse in life than having the threat of your child being taken away from you. I feel as I grasp with my fingernails, the dirt is giving way under my fingertips. I am scared, I feel helpless, but I am going to fight. I am in danger of losing my son if I do not do what the system wants me to do. My choices today were, put my son in this school, be forced to put him in the school, or they will take him away from me.
My friend and I went to the meeting today, with my notebook of facts, which include:
*Many written requests for my son to be evaluated for an IEP.
*Many refusals from the school for those requests
*My son's Service Contract, which the school has violated
*Letters from my neighbors, telling that my son is liked in the neighborhood.
*A letter from the school itself, stating how my son has academic excellence, when in fact he was failing.
*All the proof I needed to let the board know that I have been doing my best for my son, but the school has failed to provide proper care for him, thus contributing to his problems.
*The letter of Misconduct I filed against the principal, and then (by chance) finally got our Service Contract the same month.
*And most important, A tape recorder
I went into the meeting with a beginning statement that I would like to share with you, the public, as I want the world to know why our Federal Laws are failing us. Our rights are gone in the wind, and floating above our heads.
They are out of our reach, as I jump to grasp onto them.
After much consideration, and after making an informed decision, that at this time I do not agree with having my son placed in day treatment for the following reasons.
I have come here today to make a statement on my son's behalf. Because he has a hard time asking for what he needs, I also interpret for my child. My child has a hidden disability, which is just as debilitating to him as a child with a physical disability. Where a child's Civil rights are very protected when they are physically disabled, my son's rights have been denied time and time again.
My husband and I took our child from specialist to specialist, trying to find a diagnosis and help for him. When we did get a diagnosis, we started a support group and educated ourselves. We were referred to the wrap-a-round
program, and we have had theraputic staff support come to our home for 6 days out of the week. We worked with, and we not only tolerated this program---they became part of our family. His TSS workers told me that most of the families just give up on their children. Well, I will never give up on my child. I've never laid my problems in anyone else's laps, and said you fix it, and washed my hands of the responsibility. Our family has worked together to find answers. The more I learn, I know that he will never succeed at Apollo-Ridge--that much I agree on, because he will not be allowed to succeed. Each child will be labeled with terms such as "A bad child", A slow child, or an at- risk child. And they are expected to follow tried and true paths. I would like to have options for my child. Don't give up on him before you've even done what is legally and morally right for him. Don't sit by while we beg for help, and then expect us to hand over control of him when you have decided that you have no more time to waste on him. My child has a contract which has been explained to him. We tell him what his responsibilities are, and also what his rights are, and as soon as we send him back into the school, he is targeted and lied to. How can I expect my child to exist in this situation and not feel cheated and angered.
Mental health professionals have written service agreements for him. We have brought professionals in to have inservices, and as soon as the door shut, they are violating what they have agreed to. My child has responsibilities which he is expected to live up to, which he has. He had 24 detentions last year, compared to 5 this year. He is doing his part, but at great cost to him, which wouldn't be if he was dealt with fairly and consistently. Instead, they have constantly aggravated the situation. My son has been released from Allegheny General Hospital, at the center for traumatic stress, and has been slated for release from Glade Run many times. But every time, things flare up with the school, and the target date is moved. Wisdom comes from those who live it. My child needs to have a due process hearing. He needs an IEP, which has been denied, and he needs a fresh start, not a more intensive program.
**End of Statement
After I read this statement, the probation officer asked me what plan I had for my son then. She looked visibly upset, and Mr. Davis sat there "huffing" visibly.
I want to also mention that my appointment was for 9am, but the principal and probation officer talked with the board (which they are members of, I have been informed), and it lasted for a good 40 minutes.
When we (my ICM workers, my friend, and myself) finally got into the meeting, I asked to tape record our meeting. They agreed, but told me that we would not mention any names.
We started the tape recorder, and the meeting started.
That is when the statement was read, and the huffing began.
The Children and youth seemed to be very understanding of my concerns, while the probation officer and Mr. Davis seemed to be blowing a cork internally.
I hate to really inconvenience them and stress them out here, but it is my son being ripped out from me. My son's rights are being yanked out from us.
As you read this, try to put yourself in my shoes. the probation officer, as she gave me the three options ---which the last one was removing him from our home, didn't even look at me, as I told her that these kids are all we have,
and what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Our family has not only gotten stronger, but we have continued to survive together!
The meeting itself lasted for about 15 minutes. The board had met for 40 minutes prior to my time. When they called me in the room, they told me that I had 5 minutes. I read my statement, answered questions they asked me, and explained to them that my son's current contract was not being followed. I asked why we could not have options before making a decision. Nobody addressed what options I had, all but the probation officer politely telling me that she had a job that she would do. I cannot understand why when my son is showing an improvement, why they are now trying to put him in this other school.
They kept asking me if I would consider going and looking at the school (which I have seen before, but didn't want my son going there).
I feel like I am not being given time to make decisions, that I am not being afforded the legal representation I should have, and why my son cannot be worked with in the school he is in.
They keep telling me that the public school cannot provide the care he needs, but why are they receiving federal money for that then?
They tell me that by going to Adelphi that he will get a new start. My son is going to be going to the high school next year with new teachers, so why isn't that a new start?
Why is he not being offered an IEP that I keep telling them I am being denied time and time again?
So, my meeting consisted of about 15 minutes, as they told me that they had another appointment coming in. Why was my time wasted by their pre-meeting, discussing my son, without my presence to see what they were discussing? Did I not have rights to hear these accusations that I could defend us? Where are my son's federal rights?
I am going to file due process, and I made them aware of it, but they want me to sign him in to this school before I do that. They want me to make a decision in (2) days.
Even a car deal has 3 days.
As soon as I got home, the probation officer called me,
asking me to write down the number for the school, and if I would talk to them about it. She told me to let them know by friday, as there was only 1 seat available. I didn't ask for a seat. I asked them to give me options, and help my son. I feel like I am being pushed.
This is truly an academic nightmare.
On Thursday, April 15th, my son had a setback at the school. I got a message on my answering machine at home that he was in trouble.
Many people think that my son can control his behavior, when in fact, it is hard for him. With ADD/ADHD/ODD, a child acts impulsively, without thinking.
Well, my son did just that. I am so upset. This we did not need. The school will be jumping up and down for joy now. I was surprised that the principal didn't crack a smile when I went into the office. I took a witness with me. It is so bad, that I just cannot trust them anymore. How can a mother trust people that act like they are trying to help in one hand, and the other is slapping.
My son took pills out to the school. His one friend took one, and another boy took them out of his hands, and gave them out to others. Now the school has expelled my son from school for 3 days and the other boys for 1.
It did not take the school long to get the papers to me in the mail. I swear they sent them priority mail with a
pair of wings, and a smiley face. If only they could send detention notices that fast, that I have never received. Doesn't this say something?
Now it is up to the board to decide the fate of my son.
The same board that made the fate of my friend's daughter, now decides the fate of my own child. I am heartsick, I am devestated.
I have so many questions floating through my head. What if the school had seen fit to give my son an IEP all these years that I asked for one? What if they had given him more one on one attention, like they receive money for? What if they had given him a chance?
The other day, my son's one teacher pointed out to the class that my son was on his second warning, and then sent him to the office. Is that what our school calls a chance? Sending my son to Adelphi school is only a copout for this school. They push all those who they have received money for, but have used up, then pitch away like rubbage to somebody else.
I've never received options like I asked for. I've never been able to give my son 1/2 days, have an IEP, and have things done like Federal Law says they should be.
My son will be ripped out from me to go to this other school that is for problem students. They tell me that I shouldn't look at it as being bad. Well, how am I exactly supposed to look at it?
Who is to blame here? Who failed? I don't take myself out of the responsibility department, but just who refused us help all along?
I asked my son why he took the pills to school. He told me that he knew that I WAS UPSET with the way things were at school, and that he was taking them TO BE GOOD! I cannot cry more than I have this week.
Where is there Justice?
The school wants to keep it private---Why? So they can
do what they wanted to do in the first place? I think the public needs to know what they are doing. If they are not ashamed, they wouldn't hush it up now would they?
I pray to God that my son did not keep those pills to try to kill himself. You see, so many parents I talk to in the school district have had suicidal children. In fact, we found someone who had. A mother's worst nightmare is being out of control, and having people who think they know the best (and don't) making decisions that they
wouldn't even be able to make in their own home.
How many children's fates will come to rest on the schoolboard? I am so sick. I just can't talk anymore right now.
The School's Neglect / The School's Compromises?
My son was given a 3 day suspension for his setback. The very next day when I got the slip in the mail, I took a good hard look at it. It had checks on things that did not happen. It had a check on a parent conference. I had a friend with me that can prove this did not happen. I told Mr. Davis that I would not discuss it, as I wanted to speak to my attorney first. He also marked on my son's slip that he was detained after school. So I guess that 1:30 in the afternoon is after school? It was also checked that my son was punished in class. He was not. I recall this slip in front of the principal when I went to the school to get my son. Apparantly it had been filled out before I even go there---before the facts were known.
Now the school called me yesterday. Mr. Davis called me on the phone, pretends he dropped the phone, and when he got back on it sounded hollow. I asked him if I was on the speaker phone. He said yes, but only Mrs. Defilippi was listening in on the conversation. Isn't tricking someone into this illegal? He told me that whether I believed it or not he had my son's best interest at heart. He said that he had talked to Mr. Vranasevic, and that they had decided that they would like to handle it without the schoolboard.
He said that he wanted to meet with me ASAP & the parole officer.
He said that he hoped that we could reach a compromise. He said that if we didn't, he didn't want to see my son being taken out of my home. He said that we never knew what the board would decide.
He told me that him and Dr. Vranasevic EXTENDED my son's suspension to the first of next week. I got a slip in the mail today with everything checked again. My son is so upset. They are doing so much damage to him. There has to be laws against this mental torture that they are putting him through. He is acting out over all of this. God Help Me!