My Daughter Was Suspended For Wearing Boots. Principals Should Be Working to Keep Kids in School. Not Finding Arbitrary Reasons to Kick Them Out!

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!


  5 comments for “My Daughter Was Suspended For Wearing Boots. Principals Should Be Working to Keep Kids in School. Not Finding Arbitrary Reasons to Kick Them Out!

  1. Barbara J. Brooks
    February 7, 2017 at 11:15 am

    This is a heinous failure in compassion, leadership, and professionalism on the part of the principal. Her pettiness has set her school up for a lawsuit. Kudos to this parent for pursuing the issue in a responsible manner. I hope she will follow through by contacting the Department of Labor for information regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act. I also hope that other parents will follow her example and stop allowing schools to suspend your children rather than finding effective means to appropriately discipline them.

    • Digital Team
      February 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you, What advice would you offer a parent who has not gotten all appropriate results from the doctor and may not know how to advocate for their child? What encouragement would you give them to stand by what they feel is right for their child?

      • Barbara J. Brooks
        February 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        Make sure you are operating from an honest, legitimate position. In other words, that the facts are as you claim. If you are waiting for a doctor’s statement that will support your claim, that will help. Try to get a meeting with the principal, and have those documents in hand.Clearly and reasonably try to get the principal to see your point of view as logical and helpful. If there is a suspension in question, be ready to point out that there is documented evidence that suspensions are disproportionately used against children in urban areas, and that they are harmful academically and socially. If you need help getting that documentation, go to the library and ask the librarian to help you find it. That is not a difficult thing to do–it would take an hour or so of your time and is worth it! Make sure you attend parents’ meetings, and find out if other parents have had similar experiences. Without being threatening, meet with those parents with the principal, as well. Do not stop. Do not give up. Parents carry a tremendous amount of power. Always be respectful of the staff, be reasonable, and you are more likely to be heard and accommodated.

  2. February 8, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    If you are in a public school and have requested an evaluation (preferably in writing)for special ed/504 accommodations your child cannot be suspended without due process.

    • Digital Team
      March 1, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Thank you Beth for sharing. Are there specific laws to confirm this for context purposes?

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