How would you feel if your child was segregated from other children? What if they were sent home because the school didn’t have enough teachers? Would you be upset if the school suspended your child from school for having an accident? Do you think it’s appropriate for the school not to inform parents until the end of term if their child is struggling academically? Should teachers be barred from talking to parents? Most parents never have to worry about these types of issues, but for many Haddonfield parents these challenges are faced all too frequently.
Just like other marginalized groups, children with disabilities struggle with discrimination and lack of awareness on the part of those that they interact with. It’s common for parents to hear phrases like ‘needs to be in line with their peers’, or ‘is failing to keep up with the rest of the class’. It’s not appropriate to allow some children in Haddonfield schools to fail for lack of resources, inappropriate use of punishment, or segregation. The Board of Education’s position is that while they have a duty to all children in the district, they will not act or advocate for an individual child. The school staff and administrators have paychecks aligned to success and will not admit to failure. This often leaves litigation as the only viable option for parents advocating for children.
The school administration believes that frequent and contentious disagreements over what is appropriate for students with disabilities are normal. When Edison was asked if he was disheartened by the many failed attempts at creating a light bulb he cheerily quipped back that he had discovered a thousand ways it won’t work. Let’s not be afraid to admit failures and like Edison keep looking for ways to better support our individual students. Let’s ‘Glow in Excellence’.
Tom and Ellen Woodcock