Saturday, May 26, 2012

Update on Andrew

On Thursday, Andrew had to transported to the hospital by ambulance from the school bus.  He had what appears to be a gran mal seizure.  He has never had this type of seizure before.  He had only had partial complex seizures that were only occurring in his sleep.  This time he was fully awake before the seizure began.  He was under great care having such wonderful ladies taking care of him on the bus.  The principal called me as soon as he was contacted and he was in the hospital with Andrew when I arrived.  He took such great care of Andrew.  The teacher even called me later that evening to check on him.  The staff at his new school have been so wonderful to him.  They seem to be puzzled by the trouble he had at the last school because they keep bragging about how laid back and easy going he is.  They have continuously bragged about how much fun he is to be with.  It's sad that the other staff just preyed upon him and didn't get to enjoy his wonderful personality.  It's nice to have him at a place that truly care for and enjoy having him.  He has been sleeping a lot since this seizure, even today.  We will be visiting the neurologist soon to see what we need to do next.  They have increased one of his seizures meds and prescribed him another as well.  Please continue to remember him.  Thank you all for your support!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sign the Petition in honor of Andrew and all with Special Needs!

I created a petition to bring about change in North Carolina.  According to North Carolina G.S.115c-325(e)(1) that lists reasons a teacher may be dismissed or suspended from his/her duties does not mandate that the district take these actions.  Also, NC G.S.115c-325f1 and G.S.115c-325f2 gives the superintendent authority to suspend staff immediately based on reasons listed in NC G.S. 115c-325(e)(1).  However, the reasons listed are not very specific and does not mandate action and therefore leaves it up to the discretionary of the superintendent.  I am pushing for change so that all school districts will be required by law to dismiss any staff from his/her duties when they have bullied a student in any way.  Change must be made to protect our children instead of protecting those that choose to abuse our children in the classroom.  Please join me in signing this petition in support of all children.

Thank you for your support in this fight for change to help protect our children.  This needs to be done in all states across the country.  This is becoming a growing problem, especially among our special needs children.  These children are vulnerable and need protection against those that choose to prey upon them.  Lets send a message that we will not tolerate these behaviors and allow school districts to cover them up!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Andrew's Voice Speaks Out!

I have contemplated on releasing this information.  However, Union County Public Schools is giving me no choice with their lack of response and actions.  Andrew had been attending a Preschool for special needs children at Rock Rest Elementary School provided through the Union County Public School District.  We were noticing behaviors that were not characteristic for Andrew.  He did not want to come out of the house to get in the car when he was going to school.  You see, the school requires school logo uniforms to be worn and that's the only time Andrew wore these particular shirts which are red with the school logo.  He would also get visibly upset when we approached the school entrance.  I also had witnessed the aide taking Andrew by the wrist and almost literally dragging him because she was in a hurry while she was fussing at him to hurry up.  Andrew has low muscle tone and is not able to walk as fast as his peers, especially not an adult.  The teacher was also reporting to me that he wasn't responding to them and at times even refusing to walk.  This was not typical for Andrew.

 Due to these and other observations I decided to wire Andrew on April 19, 2012 with a digital recorder to find out exactly what's going on at school.  To my disbelief, things were far worse than I had imagined.  I was horrified at what was on the audio recording.  The teacher and aide verbally abused, harassed, bullied, and physically forced Andrew and caused him physical and emotional pain.  He was yelled at repeatedly to the point of him shaking out of fear to take his backpack off instead of providing him with any assistance.  Then you hear a struggle from the teacher with Andrew while she is continuing to fuss at him.  Also, due to his low muscle tone and seizure medications he can get fatigued easily.  He also has tightened hamstrings which is common in children with low muscle tone.  During carpet-time he had laid back on the floor, was not making a sound, and wasn't bothering anyone else.  The teacher begins to yell at him to sit up.  She proceeds to physically force him into a sitting position and forces his legs into the "crisscross applesauce position."  This position is uncomfortable and painful for him due to the tightened hamstrings.  When he was forced into this position he began to cry.  The aide yelled at him to stop crying and had another child to tell him to stop crying.  Then the teacher says, "There's no reason he can't sit there just like everyone else.  There's nothing enabling him from doing that."  Undoubtedly this teacher has very little knowledge about children with disabilities and yet she's teaching a special needs preschool class.  The teacher yells at a student for stating the wrong type of weather for this particular day and yells at another student for not pointing correctly as he's counting.  Some of the children, including Andrew, were mocked and laughed at for behaviors from their disability they had no control over.  There were no positive reinforcements, encouragement, or proper teaching techniques used during any of this audio.  Andrew was ignored throughout the day, except for the times he was yelled at and physically forced.  At one time the aide was literally screaming at him to "sit down" repeatedly.  At the end of the day the aide told Andrew, "Don't come tomorrow either, stay home with your nurse."  Then you hear the teacher laugh at the remark. There's much more to this audio to be released.  This audio is very disturbing.

Why? Why? Why?  Andrew did not make a sound all day except for when he cried out in pain due to the teacher's force.  He was never disruptive nor did he hurt anyone.  This was done by the teacher and aide out of complete malice.  They knew Andrew nor the other children could tell anyone.  Andrew is non-verbal and can't repeat anything that's told to him. 

This audio recording was presented to the school administrator on April 23, 2012.  As of today, the teacher and aide remain in the classroom with the children.  I immediately removed Andrew from the class.  The district will not give me any answers related to the matter.  When I have asked why they haven't been suspended pending the investigation, the district responds with, "This is a personnel issue and we can't release that information to you."  When I spoke with the Union County Public School district on Monday they gave me this same answer regardless of what question was asked.  There was a closed door school board meeting on May 9, 2012 outside the county concerning personnel issues.  Following that meeting, the teacher's position is posted on their website as a job opening at Rock Rest Elementary School for the new school year beginning in August.  However, it seems as the district has chosen to leave the staff in place the remainder of the school year to make this quietly go away.  We will not let this quietly go away and will give a voice that these children need.  We would like an apology from the teacher and aide for the way they chose to treat Andrew.  Also, we are looking for answers and for the district to take appropriate action.  We would also like to ask, "Is it Union County Public School's stand that verbal abuse, harassment, bullying, and physical force does not warrant removing staff from his/her duties immediately?"  It's been over 3 weeks with no answers and the teachers are still in the classroom.  We have full intentions of going as far as necessary to ensure districts are not allowed to cover up these type of behaviors from staff.  It is our hope that North Carolina joins New Jersey in legislation to pass a law that requires staff to be immediately removed from the classroom that violate any anti-bullying policy.

Please join me in making Andrew's, and the other children's, voice loud and clear.  These type of behaviors will not be tolerated in our schools.  No child should be treated this way.  But when the teachers prey on the most vulnerable they should be disciplined.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Andrew's Voice

I have become accustomed to being Andrew's voice for him.  Don't get me wrong, we talk to him all the time, allow him to respond in his own way, and make choices as he is able to the best way he can.  However, he doesn't have the ability to tell me why he's upset or anything that is happening to him.  As most of you know, he has only verbalized 4-5 words in approximations inconsistently.  So, I have to be his voice for him or he doesn't have one.  However, until a few weeks ago I never imagined what that would truly mean. Andrew had been trying to tell me something for awhile and I discovered what it is he had been telling me all along.  I felt like I had let Andrew down as a mother in one of the worst ways possible.  It's been several weeks and still can't believe that we are facing this challenge right now.  Even though I may have failed him by not recognizing what he was trying to tell me, I will not fail him now!  It is my intention to bring advocacy to a new level.  Andrew's voice is about to get very loud and clear.  This has to be done so everyone hears his voice along with the other children who don't have one.  Andrew and these children, just like neurotypical children, have thoughts and feelings and deserve to be heard!  It's time someone speaks out for all these precious children!  As things unfold over the next few days, weeks, and months I hope others will join me in giving these children even louder voices to be heard.