Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reader Submitted: "I'm Sorry", Words the BOE Admin Needs to use

Last night at the Board of Education meeting the Council Chambers were packed with parents of children affected by the fall out over the many issues the parents' felt the BOE Administration had mismanaged. Absent was long time BOE elect Ted Raczka, who had been die hard supporter of and now former Superintendent Michael Frechette, who resigned last week. The Unified Youth Theater gave a presentation which brough everyone in the room back to the purpose for the BOE to exist- the benefit of our children, however the mood soon got serious again when the parent of a child with autism, Jane Majewski spoke to the board during public session. Ms. Majewski showed telling photographs of the concrete pond and defunct fountain structure that is in the courtyard of Keigwin School where her son is a student. Majewski was assured that the doors to the courtyard remained locked,however her son was able to access the area where he could have fallen in. Majewski first came forward with her frustrating  plight results in dealing with some of the problems her son was encountering from the Special Education Administrators who directly report to then Superintendent Michael Frechette, earlier in the year when the "scream room" scandal broke at Farm Hill Elementary . Majewski came forward to say that she felt many issues were arising from the fact the DEAL program, which used to be a collective Special Education program housed at Lawrence Elementary for all Middletown children to attend had been disbanded at the direction of Michael Frechette. Since then, many parents have also come forward to report their frustrations with the BOE administration as a whole, especially when dealing with Special Education services. Majewski started an online petition to seek the termination of the three Special Education Administrators who she feels have mismanaged her son's education. The petition has garnered over 200 signatures. 
Last night, in tears, of and quite understandably, Ms. Majewski gave testimony about an incident where her son accessed the area of the concrete pond at Keigwin. She also went on to describe an incident where she says a Datco bus driver used insensitive language inappropriate for a child with autism when her son soiled himself on the bus and was unable to verbally communicate why he could not buckle his seat belt. Our hearts go out to Ms. Majewski for bravery for coming forward. Below is the essay by Jane Majewski submitted to us for publication.
Jane- we got your back!
Sign the petition here!
 "I'm Sorry"

Words That I finally  heard for the first time from BOE member Shelia Daniels . The sound of those words almost made me to breakdown in tears. It was echoed again moments later by Cheryl McClellan. Words that I have been waiting for since the beginning of becoming vocal about the issues we faced in this school district. Words that had I heard sooner, from anyone, I would not have called for the terminations of our BOE administrators.

The apology came after I presented the BOE with photos and a plea.

I have consistently voiced my concerns about the closing of the DEAL program- on two levels. One, that it was being closed and two that that transition of those kids into icm status was done without parental input.

Had I been asked, I would have offered my time, my expertise,  my physical help and financial resources to help ensure a safe transition of our children into the district schools. For free, I would have told administrators that preschool size furniture for fifth graders would be ineffective. For free, I would have pointed out that a timeout room should not include a circuit breaker box. For free, I would have suggested field trips to transition the kids.  I would have created a simple brochure describing the general needs of our kids for the district schools. For free, I would have donated and hung a coat rack at Keigwin.

When I recently asked Ms. Slade; "why weren't the parents included in the decision to close DEAL and/or the transition of them into the community?" her response was, " we wouldn't include parents in facility decisions; that is an administration role".

Since that is the case; then I feel the administrators need to accept the responsibility of the failed transition.

I would have simply liked to have heard, "I'm sorry".


Thats's all.

I am not asking for anything more than a safe environment for my son and his staff. Which brings me to why I write this story.

When I first saw the quad pond garden at Keigwin, I panicked. I know my child enough to know he would find away into that area. I was assured he would not because the doors are securely locked.

Imagine my surprise to receive a phone call and incident report that my son opened an unlocked door from the art room and entered this very area! He was reportedly running around this cement, unleveled cement area with statues and a filthy pond containing dead fish.

The staff hired to work with my son are trained and responsible to restrain him if needed. To be compelled to restrain a child acting out in this area is inconcieveable!

The quad has three walls of windows on multiple levels; open for the school population to view the pond. How inclusive is it to him to be viewed acting inappropriate by peers? How does it effect their perceptions of children with autism?

I contacted Ms Slade and Ms Senges. Ms. Senges quickly investigated. She reported that a janitor allegedly knew the lock was broken for some time but failed to report it to the administration.

Why would he? Keigwin never had a population of "ICM" kids. Shouldn't have he been briefed on what our kids need for safety?

My son is not allowed to go to art until the lock is fixed. Now he is being restricted from learning.

The administrators put a child into a building that continues to restrict his learning and jeopardizes his safety in a serious way. The safety of the staff are also jeopardized! Where is their union leadership? If their union and administration can't keep them safe- no wonder a para recently quit her job instead of mandate reporting.

Ann Perzan and Laurie Slade;
I have to ask you,

Would you want to be a para responsible to restrain a child in this garden?

Would you want your child running around and climbing in it?

Will it take a serious accident for either of you to accept responsibility for not preparing the community to transition DEAL kids into ICM status?

What will it take for one of you to turn to us, our staff, and our son-
And say,

"I'm sorry" ?

by Jane Majewski

1 comment:

  1. These 3 special ed supervisors need to go. They do absolutely nothing for the children in Middletown. We need ONE special Ed supervisor that does a good job not pay 3 women who do very little!!!


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