• January 18, 2014
  • blog

Fires were raging in the foothills and the Santa Ana winds were reportedly blowing at 70 miles per hour, when the 6th grader told the teacher she was not to be on the playing field.

He made her participate, anyway.  The following day Ms Mom sent a letter.  Mr Arrogant answered back that he required a physician’s  statement.

The arrogant PE teacher truly felt he didn’t have to listen to the parent.  Somewhere and somehow he came to believe  a college degree and a teaching credential made him both Lord and Master.

The principal of the school was equally as misguided as were the members of the local school board and the schools district’s Risk Management Officer.

But the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, recognized the student’s right’s had been violated under the American with Disabilities Act and when a complaint was filed with that office, only then did things begin to roll locally. 

When all was said and done, Mr Arrogant was no longer teaching at the school but it didn’t have to come to that.  All he had to do was adhere to the student’s 504 Accommodation Plan which was written according to the guidelines of the Disability Act and the plan  clearly stated she was not to  participate in physical education activities when weather conditions would exacerbate her asthma.

The immunologist at Children’s Hospital, who had seen the student through many hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room, wrote the requested letter.

But this physicians credentials didn’t carry any more weight than those of Dr. Mom who’d had spent  twelve years learning her daughter’s asthma triggers and understanding how to ward of midnight and early morning trips to emergency rooms.

The principal of the school was of no help.  The school board members listened to the complaint with sleepy eyes when Dr. Mom presenting the problem at a school board meeting,  the Superintendent wasn’t any kind of problem solver either, and the District’s Risk Management Officer fumbled and fiddled.

But after the complaint was filed, our local folks very slow investigation gained some long overdue momentum. 

It took 3 months to resolve this simple matter.   A new PE teacher came to the school but the real resolution came at the end of the semester when I took my daughter out of Pasadena Unified School District and home schooled her for 7th thru 9th grade. 

If you wonder if the schools are really that bad, think what an elderly woman  taking on  this kind of commitment. 

That was ten years ago, but now Your Black World, an online publication, is raising the issue of Black children being home schooled in order to avoid racism in the schools  in the wake of U.S.  Department of Education and Department of Justice’s recently released guidance to assist schools in administering discipline in a nondiscriminatory way and to provide alternatives to overly punitive school discipline practices.  

Not exactly the issue we faced, our problem was not related to discipline nor did I see it as a race issue but the ACLU speaks of another component to the need for guidance.

“With the rise of law enforcement in our schools, the proliferation of zero-tolerance policies, and misuse of suspensions and expulsions, our nation’s school discipline policies are pushing children, most of whom are students of color and students with disabilities, out of school,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel.

Students with disabilities, as my daughter is classified, while protected by the American with Disabilities Act, unfortunately,  are not being protected. 

Is homeschooling the answer?  Maybe the threat of districts losing their average daily attendance funding could have some impact, but I wouldn’t bet on that. 

What’s wrong with parents fighting to right these wrongs and with the help of the ACLU making the schools own up to what they are mandated to deliver which I would say is  quality and equal education. 

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