Suspended because she can’t wear her shoes!
Yes, you read that correct. Three weeks ago my daughter was hospitalized due to numbness, swelling and pain in her legs. The side-effects had been there for months, but this time was different.
Victoria was in pain and could not walk. The diagnosis, lymphedema of her lower extremities, is painful but manageable if properly cared for and not aggravated. Upon discharge her doctors set out a clear plan of action to get this under control and set up appointments for physical therapy and more tests.
Almost immediately I sent an e-mail to her principal about pursuing and IEP or 504 plan to assure that it does not cause her grades to fall further behind. Medical documentation was sent to the school.
Today Victoria was suspended for a dress code violation. She has worn supportive boots that are part of her treatment instead of the school’s required shoes since returning from the hospital and never once was there an issue.
Victoria tried to explain why she had on boots and was told that she needed a doctor’s excuse and was suspended anyway, even though you can see the swelling all the way to her calves. The principal would not speak with me as she was in a meeting but sent a message that Victoria can return but must be in full uniform. Eventually she called the office manager when I refused to accept the suspension but still refused to speak with me.
This, from the top-performing school in our city. A school that has been highlighted on talk shows for outstanding academic achievement and unique teaching strategies for students.
This, at a time when families in our city wonder if their schools will close and if their children will fit in at other schools that don’t do as well meeting children’s needs.
This, at a time when the country sits on pins and needles, afraid that no laws will be in place to protect our children with disabilities. This, when schools are making plans to assure that supports are in place to protect children from the sudden overturning of the laws that once protected them.
Her grades have fallen behind. Most of her teachers are accommodating, but others send responses outlining their class rules for late work. Could this be due to the fact that I am always advocating for my child, pushing the pendulum against the structure and rules that don’t fit all children?
If those in leadership have callus thoughts about the whole child, how then will the children suffer? If they feel we are a burden, no laws are in place and everything is left to the discretion of principals without moral principles where does that leave our children?
I am always thinking of the bigger picture. If not my child, who?
Will the next child have a parent who can advocate for her needs?
Will that parent give up and just keep moving as I have in the past?
Will children give up and shrink into despair as laws just deem them unfit for rights?
Leaders, even if laws are not in place to protect the children you educate you must realize that you have the power to still care. Rules, dress codes, class flow, accessibility and suspension guidelines are all easy to change, disabilities are not!