Letters to the Editor

Schools: Schools fail on disabilities

My son was diagnosed with Aspbergers Syndrome in 2001, while attending Clover Valley Elementary. During his two years there, he was constantly suspended, sent to the principal’s office and given time-outs. It was decided in 2003, to enroll my son in the RAVES Program at Olympic View Elementary.

RAVES is a structured program focused on behavioral support for special needs children. My son attended second grade at Olympic View and displayed drastic improvement both socially and academically. He even received the Kiwanis award for most improved. During that year he didn’t receive any suspensions.

The program worked wonderfully, and we were thrilled that our son was finally receiving the structured learning he needed. It didn’t last long, though. We found out last summer that the experienced husband and wife team delivering RAVES was leaving. We were assured by Oak Harbor School Department (OHSD) that a qualified replacement would be found.

OHSD did not succeed in providing a qualified replacement. The RAVES program is now called “Choices” and has fallen apart. OHSD did hire a replacement, but this person quit only four months later.

My son, the former award winner, has now been suspended numerous times, has had the police called on him, has been physically restrained once (that we know of) and was pulled out of the classroom in January, to sit in a room with an aide for close to two months with no social interaction. Just recently they have let him back into classroom. He has no curriculum and has not learned anything purposeful this year.

My son was made to take the ITBS test, which I found out about, after the fact, from my son and not OHSD. My child is not a criminal. He has a disability and the school system has repeatedly brushed this under the rug. I have had numerous meetings with the school, and the administration is consistently placing the blame for all problems on my son.

Why is my son being made a scapegoat for the lack of qualified teachers, aides, funding and supplies needed to create an effective learning environment for autistic children? OHSD is terribly failing families with disabled children.

Heather Mahala and John Wiedrich

Oak Harbor

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