Okay…so, I tried to be cuddly and snuggly and kissy last night with my husband, and I nearly puked. Quite literally.
The stress is eating me alive.
It’s not the stress of my daughter. Strange as it might seem, I can handle that. She’s mine. I love her, and I have a high tolerance for outlandish human behavior.
What has pushed me to the edge is her school district. The last time I came upon this kind of malice and total disregard for the well-being of human beings, I was sitting across the table from lawyers representing an auto insurance company.
By law, specifically the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA 204), a school district is obligated to provide a fair and appropriate education (FAPE) to every child in their district. If a child is suspected of having a disability, under IDEA, that district is bound to evaluate (more specifically under the Child Find clause of IDEA) that student and provide an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and the appropriate accommodations which will allow that child to learn. Under IDEA, a schizophrenia spectrum disorder is a disability, and my daughter needs an IEP in order to be educated. She is unable to attend school more than three hours a day. She cannot attend school in a mainstream classroom anymore. Currently, she needs either 1:1 tutoring or she needs, at the least, a self-contained classroom with no more than 8 to 12 students with a high teacher to student ratio. My child has deteriorated quickly in a year. It’s rather stunning. Some days, she’s not even functional.
Last year at this time, we were, unbeknownst to me, just in the beginning stages of prodromal schizophrenia. Last Saturday, she tried to crawl under a table at a restaurant because of “The Men” who follow who everywhere. Her antipsychotics and mood stabilizers still need tweaking. It will be like this until she’s at least 18 years-old. She just turned 12.
You would think that the special education teachers at her school would want to help her. They don’t. They don’t care. They denied her an IEP evaluation. Twice. I have pleaded with them for help. I told them that she was actively psychotic. They told me to just send her to school, and, if she needed a break, then she could go to the break room and play with her fidgets. I told them that she couldn’t be in a room with windows or mirrors because she is terrified of them, and they refused to listen. I told them that she had been hiding in one of the school’s bathrooms to get away from “The Men” during school, and they were unfazed. Did anyone know she had been in there? I told them that she was getting lost on her way to Language Arts class and needed help. I told them that she is unpredictable. She is unreadable–unless you’re me. I told them that she might harm herself. I told them that she is paranoid and delusional. “There isn’t enough evidence for an IEP evaluation. She looks fine”
Grace missed over twenty days of school in the first two months of school. Her psychiatrist even sent the school a letter insisting on a special placement in a self-contained classroom. He even defined psychosis and clearly stated that she has childhood-onset schizophrenia. The school had no response.
I stopped sending Grace to school. The school didn’t care. I can’t send a psychotic child to school. What would happen if Grace had a psychotic break in her classroom? What would happen if a student came into class wearing a cowboy hat or a bowler hat, as odd as that sounds? Middle schoolers, however, do strange things not the least of which is wearing a bowler hat. One of the men who follows Grace (when she’s psychotic) wears a cowboy hat. The other two wear bowler hats. Can anyone predict what she might do? No. She has stabbed herself. Would she stab someone else? I have no idea. She tends to be a runner, but what if she finally decided that she’d had enough of this harassment. What if she hurt another child in a psychotic state, thinking that child was one of the men who stalk her on a daily basis? It is the school’s job to make sure that every chid is safe once they are within the boundaries of their property. Clearly, they have failed.
We’ve had to begin consulting an attorney. I see her on Monday. We already have an advocate through a state agency. This advocate does have some power as they represent a state agency that makes recommendations that go on permanent record. One doesn’t want to piss off this particular state office. The school’s response? Obstruction. I spoke with Grace’s advocate this morning, and she described the school district’s treatment of Grace as “beyond the pale”. One social worker from a neighboring district who got word of this situation gasped and said, “Shame on them!!!” Another special education teacher from yet another school district who heard about our school district’s deplorable treatment shook her head and hissed, “Douchbags…”
I’m not some entitled parent. I just want Grace to have a FAPE, and I don’t understand how a school psychologist, a speech pathologist, a special education evaluator, a superintendent, an assistant principal, and a director of special education services can deny a child like Grace the accommodations that she needs to get that education. But, they are. What’s more, I’ve learned that they are doing this very thing to other children, too.
And, I don’t like it. The injustice of it is burning a hole in my gut. The problem is…what they are doing is not only unjust.