It's back-to-school season. The hearts and minds of responsible parents everywhere are turned towards getting their precious charges situated back in the groove of the next academic year.
We ALL want our children to be happy and have their best opportunities for success in the hallowed halls of education. So you can imagine how my heart sunk when my friend, Ellen Stumbo, brought my attention to an article about a pathetic, disgusting situation where a parent is currently in legal mediation with her school district over its failure to accommodate her son's special needs as required by the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation of 1973.
This week's "winner", the Hamilton School District of Trenton, NJ, seems to have lost any ounce of compassion for kids like little Jarrett Kane, who just want some shred of dignity and a small amount of assistance. Apparently, it's too much to ask a school district to give a child with toileting issues some amount of privacy and adequate help as they make every effort to just fit in with their peers at school.
|Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
But this story got my "Irish up" in a larger way. It gets tiresome listening to the lip service paid by school districts nationwide, proclaiming how much they care about "the children", only to have these same people put up every obstacle possible to refuse those same "children's" rights to a "free and appropriate public education" (FAPE). Too often, I hear stories from parents around the country who are dealing with schools doing the very least required to avoid a lawsuit. Other parents are dealing with schools that have formulated a terrific IEP, but who fail to abide by it.
My friends, SERIOUS PRAYER is needed in this all-too-common situation. When people like this start out seeking a degree in education, it is because they do have a true love and passion for children. Special educators do have a remarkable concern and rapport with unique kids when they begin their journey. Yet, too often along the way, many hearts develop callouses, and they become obstacles and impossibility thinkers rather than bridge-builders and creative problem-solvers. It ends up in a sad outcome for everyone involved.
As the new school year begins, let us pray that a spirit of love and cooperation prevails between parents and educators, for the sake of every terrific child, made in the image of God.
~ Barb Dittrich
*For further reading: JEFF EDELSTEIN: Hamilton 5-year-old with Spina bifida almost gets his wish