The High School
I think that starting into High School is a very scary time for students. The children are the bottom of the totem pole. As every year starts, there were tons of papers to fill out. I made sure to address my daughter's problem, and always give phone numbers. I rested, feeling that Anna would be taken care of, but that was short lived. We had ups and downs with Anna's foot in ninth grade, with crutches being gradually more entwined in my daughter's life. Students can be so cruel, especially when they are unsure of something. Again, there were comments, but we knew that Anna's problem was getting worse with her foot. I think what really threw off people with Anna's foot was the fact that she took marching band. I would like to cover that at this point, because I feel that people need educated in this matter.
The law states that a handicap or disabled child has the right to participate in any activity in the school, and the school is to make it possible. We didn't ask the school to put our child on a pedestal. We asked that she be allowed to march when she could & sit out when she couldn't. Anna has been trained to know when she needs help with her foot. She also knows when it needs ice, when she needs crutches, medication, and when to elevate her foot. She also knows when she needs her mother to call her doctor, or when she is not able to tolerate the pain in her foot. Anna's threshold of pain is high, as she has been living with pain. I think anyone experiencing nerve pain knows what I speak of. The sad part is, people look at my child and think that she looks healthy--so otherwise she is faking.
I always thought that if a person were ignorant of a problem that they should educate themselves to learn what the problem is and how to deal with it. I also thought that there is no excuse for staying ignorant. This is just a statement of course, with nobody in particular.
Getting back to my point--Anna's foot swells, and puts incredible pressure in her foot. Imagine a growth in your foot in the muscle, stretching, ripping, and bleeding inside. A foot does not have much room to swell, let alone in the muscle. She gets numbness in her toes, but stinging, excruciating pain in her foot--up through her leg. This is not comfortable.
Anna wanted to participate in band, as she loves playing the flute. After talking with Anna's doctor, he told Anna & myself that she could and should participate in band as long as it did not hurt, and as long as she was able. Anna had missed out on a lot of things from her handicap. She knew when to stop marching, and sat out many times on activities. I wrote notes to Anna's band teacher explaining this, and he assured Anna that he had no problem with it. It rips a parent's heart out when you see your child slowly getting worse and worse, and there is not one thing you can do about it but watch. It also hurts to see your own child having to give up so much, and I wanted her to participate in something she loved, as long as she could physically handle it. 9th grade: I recall Anna calling home the one day, as she had many times in the middle school, asking me to bring her crutches to the school. I asked her what was going on with her foot, if it was swollen---things that we know we need to do when a child has a handicap. She told me that her foot was swollen pretty bad.
Now a swollen foot is not something that a student fakes. I told her that
I would send her dad to the school to pick her up, as if ice didn't help, we may need to
call the doctor. Anna had called me from the pay phone out in the hall, as the secretary
(Mrs. Baum) gave Anna a quarter. Anna had not been allowed to use the phone in the office.
That day, Anna's friend (a school board member's
Anna tried to explain that she had called home for crutches, but that I had decided she needed to come home. Mr. Notto & his friend would not allow my daughter to explain. Instead, she was told to SHUT UP & that her parents needed to learn how to read & then read the school manual. Mrs. Walker, the school nurse, came into the office at that point, and took Anna into her office to try to calm her down.
It may have worked, but Mr. Notto would not let it rest. He had to follow
my child into the nurse's office to keep harassing her & asking her, "Now, we
aren't going to do this again, are we?"
When my husband went to the school to pick Anna up, and saw her so upset, Mr. Notto told him that there had just been a misunderstanding?! Anna was still crying when she got home. I called the school at that time, talked to the other secretary expressing my anger. I told her that I didn't care if it was Mrs. Baum's time of the month or not, but my child would not be treated like that by her or Mr. Notto. How can a student be expected to treat their Administration with respect when they are told to Shut Up, have their parents ridiculed to them, and then cover themselves with it being just a misunderstanding?
I was put on the phone with Mr. Notto. I expressed my anger with the situation, and told him that if he had taken the time to look at my child's records, he would know the problem. I also told him that I, again would serve a lawsuit if this went on. He assured me that it was over, that it was a misunderstanding, and that I could tell Anna to relax, that she didn't need to be upset. He told me that they had "figured out" in the meantime, that the other student with Anna (that heard them tell my child to shut up) was faking her illness, just wanting to go home. I was again inexperienced to believe that I would never be fed a crock. I believed him.
Another occasion, shortly after the prior one, was the time that Anna went to the office to ask Mrs. Baum to see Mrs. Walker (the nurse). Mrs. Baum called the nurse in the middle school, and told Anna that she would have to come back 1 1/2 hours later. Now, again, Anna needs ice when she needs it--not 1 or 2 hours later. Anna told her that she would need a hall pass to get back to class.
Mrs. Baum told her no. Anna told her that her teacher would send her back and she would get into trouble without a hall pass. Mrs. Baum told her that it was not her problem. Anna snicked up the hall to the Mr. Foresman's office (guidance), and they gave her a pass to go back to class. My child was never given ice that day for her foot.
Comment: When a handicapped individual needs medical attention, it is
physical abuse to refuse the help. When a handicapped individual is told to shut up or
refused something, when they are trying to ask for help, it is verbal abuse. This violates
a handicapped person's Civil Rights. This also works on an individual's self-esteem, where
a person is afraid to ask for help from those
Pre-10th grade: 2 weeks prior to school starting this last year (1998-1999), I received a certified letter in the mail making me aware that if Anna missed 3 days of school, we would need a doctor's excuse.
It had in the letter that they were writing this letter, and we were needing the excuses, in order for good attendance to prevail. Now, if my daughter were missing due to "just wanting to miss", I could understand this, but she missed due to her handicap (with doctor excuses). They used an attendance pattern from the middle school---please keep this in mind for later.
Comment: When a school has to focus on a handicapped student's attendance,
that has doctor excuses, and is on the honor roll, instead of ones who purposely violate
the school policies, It is a sad, demented situation. This, once again, violates my
child's Civil Rights, and is harassing.
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