High School Years

Like most young teens, Shantel was excited and anxious to start High School. High School should be some of the best years of a teenagers life. But, unfortunately, that just didn’t ring true for Shantel, and it was a time of tremendous stress and turmoil for Bill and I. I knew even before Shantel attended her first High School class, that we were going to be in for a long, hard fight.

The summer before High School began, I made an appointment for Bill and I with the District Department Head, we will just call her Dr. XYZ,  since she made it clear to me I was to address her as “doctor” because, after all, she had a PhD. I think she thought I would be impressed and “TRUST” (yes, that word again), that she knew what she was talking about. I wasn’t and she didn’t!

I asked for this meeting because I wanted to make sure the district was aware Shantel would be attending their High School in the fall, and to make sure they knew what Shantel’s needs were. I explained to Dr. XYZ that Shantel reads and writes Braille and all her books are in Braille. I told the good Dr. that Shantel had a one-on-one assistant who would translate the braille to print for the teachers. At this point, Shantel had not yet been introduced to a computer, or the JAWS program that allows her computer to speak to her. Her Middle School wouldn’t provide that technology because of the expense and they couldn’t justify it in their budget for one blind student. I went on to explain to the good Dr. XYZ, that Shantel would need an assistant with her in all her classes to be her “eyes” in the classroom to make sure Shantel was getting information that might be written on the board, some information in videos that might be in writing, non-verbal video sections would need to be explained, and any Powerpoint presentations etc.

Dr. XYZ let me know that in High School, Shantel would not have a one-on-one assistant and would be expected to learn how to use a computer and work with her teacher and/or peers to get information that was written and perhaps have me read it to her at home while she brailled it out for herself. Now, you can only imagine the look on my face while I am listening to this “brilliant, Dr. XYZ with her PhD, try to explain to me how this is all going to work out just fine, I just need to “TRUST” them. It is important to note here that it takes months to have books brailled and this meeting is in late May and school is starting in mid-August. It is also important to remember, Shantel has never be introduced to a computer so she will need training, which I can’t provide, because the JAWS program has different commands that are not used on a regular computer program. As I try to calmly explain these things to the good Dr. XYZ she cuts me off saying I just need to realize this is High School and they don’t provide babysitting.

At this point you have to know I want to reach over the table and snatch the good Dr. XYZ, with her PhD, BALD! However, I continued to stay calm, because I know Shantel really wants to attend this school and I know I am going to have problems no matter what school we attend. So, I explain to Dr. XYZ that we are not asking for special accommodations, but we are going to insist on reasonable accommodations as is written in the law and will be written in the Individual Education Plan (IEP). I said my expectation is that Shantel will be given a level playing ground to compete with her sighted peers so she can graduate at the same time as her peers. Now, the good Dr. XYZ, with her PhD, looks me right in the eye and says Shantel can stay in High School for seven years if she needs to and if that is how long it takes her to do the work. Well, to say I lost my calm at this point would be the understatement of the century! Bill hadn’t really said much at this point, but now he said “oh shit”! I got up, leaned in VERY close to the good Dr. XYZ, with her PhD, and told her if my daughter had to stay in High School for seven years because she couldn’t learn the information due to a learning disability I would support that completely, but she wasn’t staying in High School seven years because the good Dr. XYZ, with her PhD, wouldn’t or couldn’t do her dam job! Then, I went on to let her know that I would home school Shantel before I would let her come to their High School because they didn’t deserve to have my daughter in the first place. I asked Bill if he had anything to add, he said “I think you pretty much said it all”, so I said as far as I’m concerned this meeting is over and we walked out!

Next: Shantel Insists On THAT High School!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gotham Girl
    Mar 08, 2012 @ 00:27:33

    WOWZA! Can’t wait for the next post! xoxo


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