When Bad Things Happen In Your Favor

After being told that Shantel wouldn’t have an assistant walking with her between classes, and her mobility sessions wouldn’t begin until a month after school started, it fell to me to help her learn her route to each of her classes. The Department Chair Of Special Education for Mountain Pointe High provided Shantel’s schedule to me and gave Shantel and I a tour of the school to show us where each of Shantel’s classes were located. Then, we were told we could spend the summer practicing getting from class to class which is what we did. The school office was open all summer, and maintenance men were working throughout the school buildings, but the refrigeration wasn”t on and the school was very hot and most of the hallways were dark which was not a problem for Shantel of course, bu it made it difficult for me to read the directions on how to get to each of Shantel’s classrooms. Shantel and I would go to the school everyday, all summer long, and practice for at least an hour and sometimes more. When school started, I still wasn”t comfortable that Shantel was going to be able to locate all her classes and I knew it would be much more difficult for her once the halls were full of pushing and shoving teenagers.

During school hours a bell rings to let the students know they have five minutes to get to their class. If any student is found in the hallways when the second bell rings, five minutes after the first bell, they are sent to what is called “sweep”. If you are sent to sweep, you have to stay there the entire hour and do nothing but sit in silence. Punishment for not getting to class on time. I prayed Shantel never got sent to sweep because that would throw off her route and she wouldn’t be able to find her way back to where she needed to be. But, I had no choice but to pray Shantel would be OK and that she would find all her classes on time. I expressed my concerns over and over to the Department Chair of the High School, but was told repeatedly not to worry, because Security would also be looking out for Shantel, from a distance, so she would be just fine. I was told I just needed to relax and let go and “trust” the system. Then, all HELL broke loose!

Within the first week of school, Shantel was walking to her class, alone, and accidentally bumped into a boy with her cane in the hall.  Shantel said excuse me, but the boy grabbed Shantel and shoved her into a brick wall and told her she better stay the hell out of his way. Shantel said she wasn’t trying to get in his way, and told him it was an accident and she was just trying to get to her class and suggested he do the same. The boy shoved Shantel into the wall again, this time much harder, calling her filthy names and said she better not ever get in his way again. Shantel said this happened about 9:00 in the morning. When Shantel finally got to her class, she told her assistant, but the assistant told her she was fine and it was just an accident and to just forget about it.

When I picked Shantel up at 3:00 that afternoon, I knew right away when I saw her something was wrong. She looked terrified and still visibly shaken. I asked her what was wrong but she said let’s just go home. On the way home she told me what happened and when we got in the house I made her show me her back where the boy shoved her into the wall. She had a huge bruise on her back and shoulder. I took pictures of her back and shoulder, then I immediately got on the phone with the Department Head of Special Education of the school and told her I wanted a meeting with the Head of the District, the school Principal, the school Security and herself immediately, or I was going to call the police, the news channels, and anyone else who wanted to break this story about how my blind daughter was attacked at Mountain Pointe High!

An emergency meeting was scheduled for 5:00 that afternoon, and as much as I hate that Shantel had to go through being attacked, it definitely turned the tables in our favor going forward. It gave me the ammunition I needed to insist that she have an assistant with her at all times, including walking between classes. When I showed the pictures of Shantel’s back and shoulder, the “powers that be” were stunned and had nothing to say about why security wasn’t around when the attack happened. They couldn’t even see anything on the school security cameras because they happened to be pointed in the wrong direction, and of course, no one saw or heard anything. But, I told them this was totally unacceptable and Shantel’s safety was at risk. Of course, they had no choice but to agree and made the changes to Shantel’s IEP to include an assistant with her at all times during the school day. One small victory that led to much bigger ones to come.

Next: Dr. XYZ Retired!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gotham Girl
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 21:19:49

    Isn’t it soooo easy to say, “TRUST the system!” Yeah right. Thank god the wicked Dr XYZPHD is retiring. I’ll look forward to that story!!! xoxo


  2. Megs
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 20:09:40

    Mean people suck!


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