Some of my long term followers remember what the past year has been like. Between our final childcare expulsion, my daughter being left on a major highway by the bus company, and me leaving my previous job– it was extreme stress.
Well, what I did not share was that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Department of Education in Washington, DC both responded to my complaints back in the Spring.
The ADA wanted to enter into mediation with our previous daycare provider, that I reported for both terminating her enrollment after not addressing a serious safety concern (i.e. not supervising her on the highway) and they [the ADA] wanted to investigate the segregation of children with special needs into one classroom that I had provided documentation on.
Within the weeks I had to sign an agreement to enter into mediation, a few things happened. First, I was offered a full-time position with a local college that I had been excited about which escalated my need to figure out childcare arrangements urgently but I also didn’t have time to go through the proceedings.
Second, I realized that fighting for a placement that had endangered my child was not in the best interest of my child and was not the fight I was looking for. Why would I want her someplace that didn’t want her?
The third reason I decided not to move forward was because I knew how this goes. I would have been forced to sign away my rights to share my experience with others and as a writer and mother of a child on the autism spectrum, I refuse to even consider doing so ever again.
The representatives I had worked with was upset for me that I had decided not to move forward, but they understood.
My experience with the Department of Education was a bit different. Surprisingly different since they were the ones legally obligated by my child’s IEP to keep her safe.
Providing door to door service to preschool special education students is something that my child’s case manager, child study team, and local transportation company verbally promised me was “procedure” here in New Jersey. My case manager insisted that I didn’t need to have it written into her IEP but basically, in the end, because it was not in her IEP, they were not at fault for not following her IEP or endangering my child and we didn’t move forward. While I did have written documentation stating that it was procedure, again, I closed the case and prepared to go back to work. I wanted to move forward and solve my daycare issue at a higher priority to return to work full-time.
With that as my goal, I decided to reach out to our school district’s superintendent. While I made a scene with the bus company and daycare about what had happened, I realized that I never took it as far as reaching out to him with all the chaos that went down and well why not? He should have known all along. Why should I [or anyone] ever be in this situation when my child was put into direct danger?
Below is a copy of the first letter I wrote with people and places marked “X” for privacy.
Hi Mr. X,
I am writing to urge you to expand the childcare centers that our district transports students to after school.
Specifically, I am asking to make special accommodations to transport my child, X, to “X” on X Rd in X, NJ for just 16 days during the Extended School Year program in July; She would only need to be dropped off there after school. This camp program is less than 3 miles away from our home school at X, which I believe to be a reasonable distance since my preschooler is banned from attending programs at X and X.
My daughter fell and cracked her head open at The X School on Rt X when she was two-years-old and needed plastic surgery. At the time, the owner refused to provide proper insurance information for medical reimbursements and her hospitalization which forced us to enter a legal dispute with X that resulted in her removal from the school.
She then attended X Nursery School for over a year until they were caught not supervising my child, who has autism, at the bus stop. Before the situation could be rectified between the Bus Company and X, the owner of X, JL, terminated X’s enrollment stating they “can’t meet the needs of the child.”
Furthermore, it should be brought to your attention that the bus stop at X is a safety hazard for all preschoolers and young students receiving special education services. During the first two weeks of the 2018-2019 school year in September, X Township Transportation (Bus #X) dropped my preschooler off on route X and refused to pull up to the front door as arranged. My child was witnessed just feet away from the major highway without supervision—Can you imagine seeing a 4-year-old unsupervised on Route X? What were they going to tell me if my child was struck by a car? And it happened more than once.
To no fault of her own, my daughter has suffered because of these limited options.
As mentioned earlier, my daughter X is on the autism spectrum and was receiving private ABA therapy services for 25-30 hours per week (paid for by me) in a childcare setting that has complimented her current special education placement at X Elementary.
Since losing her placement at X, I was forced to leave my job of eleven years causing our family great financial burdens.
My goal as a parent is to do everything I can do for my child to help her be successful.
Since she is entering Kindergarten in the Fall with plans of being mainstream, this summer is a critical time for her to work on her skills. I need her to attend this camp to continue working with her ABA therapist and I need to go back to work full-time.
Nobody should be in my situation with a preschooler that is banned from every daycare center in town. I know that X is not a big town filled with tons of resources, but X Town is and we should be able to use their local daycare resources that are such a short distance away, if not closer than some of our own.
Please consider this.
That was my first e-mail sent on May 2, 2019. Below is his response:
Nothing. He did not respond.
Well fellow IEP parents…the fact that he did not even respond to, comment on, or look into the complaint about leaving a 4-year-old on a state highway is frightening. The next time I need to contact the superintendent, it looks like I will need legal representation to do it for me. Should anything like this ever happen again, lord save anyone who has to deal with me afterward.
I re-sent the e-mail on May 24, 2019 with no response. Since about two months have passed, I assume there will never be a response. So here I am… on social media.
As for my child, she has to sit home with a babysitter, at an astronomical cost to me, since there is no transportation for her to get anywhere else. This is our life. This is the awareness that I want to spread today because this is bullshit.