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. 

 

 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shame on them!!! I am so sorry for what you and your beautiful little girl have been through. And your right, it is unlawful, and they had better figure something out. I do not know how some people look at their self in the mirror. I mean really?!

Cjengo said...

This makes me sad. It also makes me very grateful for Jude's prior school. We had to pull him due to continuing illness but even with pulling him out they still included him in events. His little pictures still hangs up, his name is on the path to the class, and they included his name in their ceremony. I am very ashamed of her school. Kendall deserves more!

charity said...

wow thats just so wrong on all levels. they seem to forget that kendall has feelings to and wants to be included in the activities as well. i sure hope you find a school who will include her in activities next year. shame on the school they should know to include every child

Debbie said...

Way to go mom!
I can feel your anger and frustration in your post....YOU are Kendall's voice as you well know, and you are doing an amazing job being her advocate. She is one beautiful little girl and would be the "star" and shine among her peers in any school program....

(((hugs)))

BrierPatch said...

Jocie, I can't tell you how much this saddens me. As one of the general classroom teachers that was involved with inclusion under a principal with a vision and the guts to do the right thing, I am appalled. Yes, we constantly fought with some parents of " regular" kids and a few blankety, blank teachers, as they were too ignorant to see the blessings and benefits we all gleamed from each other. I am just stunned and without words. ( which is rare for me)

dannette said...

This is a tough one and often what inclusion is isn't what it should be. Confusing to say the least. I was a special education teacher who fought for inclusion to then see my students' forgotten by their general ed teacher on things. Now I am a parent to an amazing little girl who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Honestly, I prefer her to be protected in a special needs room where her teacher gets the unique and bright little girl she is. I don't want her inclusioned to where she is just put in the back of a classroom and the kids think she is cute like a class pet. I want her to learn to the best she can and for us what has worked best is for her to be in a self contained room and then more social with a general ed classroom. Honestly, she is happier when she is in the self contained room where people can understand her style of communicating and can take the time to wait. I know each family has a dream of how it should be, but reality is someday my daughter will require a group home etc... as by the looks of things she will continue to need total care, so we are trying to face each step of helping her to be the happiest and best she can be in an environment that is healthy and safe for her. I know our reality isn't necessarily yours due to differences in school districts, but what you just described happens to inclusioned kids more than you would think - you just caught them. Hugs to you as you fight for what you believe is best for Kendall!

Lisa Sharp said...

I stumbled upon your blog somehow and wanted to say, I feel ya sister. Your situation really resonates with me. I have a 7 year old that just finished Kindergarten in Keller ISD. At the beginning of the year, I was optimistic and happy but by the end of the year, I was bitter and jaded. It happens so fast! We had 3 pre-ARD meetings and 2 ARD meetings recently, and they were not pretty. Embracing inclusion is just not happening in many schools these days. Sadly. It takes guts and willingness to fight to start making a change. Lots of parents throw in the towel and just give in because it is easy to just peace out and not fight. I get it. I've been tempted as well! But lets stick to our guns and fight for what is right for EVERY kid! In the end, our fight will be worth it and hopefully there will be reciprocal benefit for others that follow in our kiddos paths! Thanks for letting us be a part of your journey. Kendall is adorable!

Lisa Sharp said...

Oh, forgot to mention my kiddo has Down syndrome. Oops! Not that this label is important as to who he is, but it helps you understand that we are in the same boat as to fighting for inclusion.