Friday, June 7, 2013

An EPIC inclusion FAIL.

Imagine the excitement.  A full year of PPCD/Pre-K.  Programs, class pictures, kids having fun on the playground, eating lunch with the curly haired little girl in the power wheelchair with the pink wheels.  Everyone interacting despite their differences…
The end of the year arrives.  The classroom floods with excited parents and their cameras and video cameras.  Dads have taken off work.  The kids are dressed up in their costumes.  The teachers are smiling through their exhaustion, but ready to show off the dances, songs, and poems they’ve been working on for months.  Pictures are snapping right and left.  The kids are smiling and laughing with one another. They are proud of their friendships and accomplishments.  One by one they are called up to the “stage” and recognized for their strengths.  They tote end of the year gifts for the teachers in creative wrappings…

Just imagine.

That’s all I can do.
I’ve tried to hide the situation.  I’ve tried not to blow it into an irrational rant on facebook.  I’ve tried to act like it doesn’t bother me and that I’m moving on.  But if you read this blog, you know that’s not in my nature.  So if you’ve come here for a good-feeling-inclusion-works-again-all-is-well-with-the-world type post.  Don’t read any further. 

Because that’s not what this is.

What this is, is a complete and utter fail.  True, Kendall made a lot of accomplishments this year.  But socially, I don’t feel like this went well.  At first I did.  I was cautiously optimistic after Kendall wasn’t involved in the “Pre-K Circus” the first semester.  I was completely caught off guard and heart broken after the class picture debacle blogged about earlier.  But this third strike literally brought me to my knees. 

There was a pre-k program and Kendall wasn’t invited to be in it.  She wasn’t invited to practice with them.  Her IEP has her in the general ed pre-k program half of the time she’s at school.  Apparently they practiced and prepared during the other half. (The other half being when she's the only child in the PPCD classroom with three to four adults and no other students)  A child even spoke up and said “I wish Kendall had a partner for the dances”  but the teacher looked the other way.  I intercepted the letter about the program.  As you can imagine, I came unglued.  So, with five days remaining, a last ditch effort was made to include Kendall.  You know, taking another student from their able-bodied partner and pairing them up with Kendall.  Lots of backtracking was had by the principal.  (I imagine it went something like this:  you WILL find a way to include this child because her mother is really, really, angry….and has sent a bunch of e-mails)  Coordinators and Directors can’t do anything because this is a campus issue….but trust me, I made them aware. 

I’m disgusted.  And that’s the only way to describe it.  It was too little too late. It says a lot about a person if they have to be forced to do training on inclusion and disability awareness.  It says a lot about an administrator if they truly turn a blind eye three times in a row and don’t follow up with the training they promised would happen  (remember the book study….it never happened).

So, I pulled her.  I took her out of school with two weeks remaining.  For me it was such a punch in the gut.  We had to invite ourselves.  I wish I had just let the program happen and showed up for it with my husband, camera, video camera, and smiles.  Maybe if they could physically see the damage and hurt this does to a family they would have changed their approach.  And they also would have ended up on the local news.  Because, like I said….this is hurtful, unlawful, and down-right wrong.
The principal actually had the nerve to tell me there wasn’t ever really a “program” in the making.  Bull shit.  If you saw the pictures I saw of the PROGRAM you would realize a lot of thought and preparation went into this. 

So, once again.  Shame on them.  Shame on all of them.  I am so ready to say goodbye to this school and their “perfect little children.”  I’m so sorry that my child doesn’t fit into the box of normal children that you only include in activities. 

But wait, I’m really not sorry.  My daughter is exactly who she should be.  It may be hard and uncomfortable and require you to think outside of your box.  But she is going to be included.  She is going to be treated exactly like every other student.  It won’t be easy.  But we are not going anywhere, so you’d better figure it out.