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1st Letter to Board

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2nd Letter to Board



First Letter to School Board & Superintendent

February 4, 1999



Dear School Board Members & To The Superintendent:

I am writing with a problem that has come to the point where, in order to protect my daughter from failing, I must involve the school board, superintendent, lawyer, and Anna's doctors. If I felt that there was any other way to avoid this, I certainly would, but I have had it repeatedly proven to me over the last 4 years that I cannot avoid this any more.
My daughter, Anna, is a student in Apollo-Ridge High School in the 10th grade. She is a very pleasant, well-adjusted girl with a major physical problem. Her last 9 weeks of the school year, she was on the honor roll. My daughter has a vascular (venous) malformation on the bottom of her right foot all throughout her muscle. I have attached a letter from a coordinator & expert in this field, which I have already shared with the school. It is self-explanatory, and explains my child's problem perfectly.
To explain this clearly, I need to go back in time, and I will keep it as brief as possible. 6 years ago, Anna started having problems with her foot. She had sharp stinging pains in her foot. Her podiatrist thought at that time that she had a torn ligament. Anna went through 2 years of taping her foot, casts, and a lot of medication, ice and crutches. Eventually her foot doctor forwarded us to a vascular surgeon in Pittsburgh, where we were told that they would not touch her. They were unable to deal with Anna's problem, which they diagnosed as an intramuscular hemangioma.
Hemangiomas and vascular malformations are easy to confuse with one another, as this is a vary rare problem, as explained in the enclosed letter, but a vascular malformation is worse than a hemangioma. We were sent to New York City to NYU hospital, where they did an embolization on Anna's foot. (injections to kill off the veins). When they perform an embolization, Anna's foot swells up 2 to 3 times its normal size for a week to 10 days following the procedure. It was unsuccessful, and we really had no hope for the problem we had.
In the meantime, through all of this, Anna had doctor excuses, which excused her from gym class. Two separate years, two separate teachers, Anna was forced the one year to walk the track, which warranted me visiting the school.
The second year, another teacher, she was told that she would lift weights, or be forced back behind the bleachers to.
At that time, I made another visit to the middle school promising a lawsuit if it happened again, and they pulled Anna out of gym class. Mr. Davis promised me that it would not happen again, and I had them view Anna's MRI's from our trip to New York City. He also told me to make sure to write on Anna's medical papers at the beginning of the year the problem that Anna was having with her foot.
When Anna reached 9th grade, I made sure to put Anna's foot problem on the medical paper that was sent home.
At that time, our main concern was that Anna took no gym class, which an excuse was provided for, and that if she needed ice, she would ask for it. Anna was experiencing problems off and on with her foot that she would need crutches occasionally.
There were 2 different occasions that come to mind concerning problems that Anna had in the high school office.
*Anna went to the office, asked to call home for crutches, as her foot was bothering her. She was given a quarter from the secretary, and she used the pay phone. Anna called me, and I asked her how her foot was. When she told me, I told her that I would send her father to get her. When Anna told the secretary, she was jumped all over in the office. She was told to shut up & that she was going to speak with Mr. Notto. Anna was upset, and when Mr. Notto came into the office was told that she had broken procedure. She explained to them that she had called home for crutches, but that I had made the choice to get her. She was told that her parents needed to learn how to read the school manual, and at that time, Mrs. Walker took her to her office. Anna was upset and crying, as she was not given the chance to talk, and was being told to shut up by Mr. Notto and the secretary. Mr. Notto then went into the health room and said to Anna, "Now we aren't going to do that again, are we?" When my husband brought Anna home, I was very upset, as to the verbal treatment that my daughter got over something that could have been explained to her peaceably. When this girl gets upset, her foot swells, causing her more problems. I called Mr. Notto, and he assured me that it was just a misunderstanding--that there was a girl in the office with her that they figured was faking illness, but that Anna was not.
He told me on the phone not to worry about it, that it was over. (Please note that this is addressed in the communication letters between me and Mr. Notto about broken policies and procedures).
*On another occasion, Anna went to the office, asked the secretary to go to the health room for ice, as her foot was hurting her. The secretary called Mrs. Walker at the middle school, and then told Anna that she would have to come back in 1 1/2 hours. Anna asked for a hall pass, and was told no. Anna explained that she would get into trouble, but was told that it was not the secretary's problem. Anna at that time snuck up to the guidance office, and they gave her a pass to get back to class.
The correspondence between myself and the school started after I received a certified letter 2 weeks before school started, concerning a doctor's excuse after 3 missed days. They are self-explanatory, and I ask that you notice the initials on the reply that I got to my fax 1 1/2 months later. Those initials are of the secretary that verbally abused my daughter.
The broken policies and procedures that are being talked about, are the ones that were misunderstandings the previous school year. The secretary gave Anna the quarter to call home. When I received this letter, I called the school very upset, and demanded a meeting with Mr. Notto, Mrs. Walker, and Mr. Foresman. Prior to that, I called and spoke with a lady, at the school who is supposed to handle disability rights, but was told to deal with Mr. Notto, who I was having problems with.
The meeting was 1 1/2 hours of me explaining to the school that Anna had a problem, and showing proof. I also addressed the problems that Anna was having in the school, asked if they had a problem with her absences why she could not have a tutor, and demanded a Chapter 15 Service Contract with the school to protect Anna's civil rights to
have an education. I also explained to them the problems that Anna was having with a band teacher, concerning being
made an example out of in class. The day after this meeting Anna was confronted in a sound-proof room by this teacher.
Anna came home all upset, her foot swelled double it's normal size, and I called the school. Mr. Notto told me it was my daughter's word against the teacher. I spoke with Mrs. Walker about it, and she was all concerned. She called Anna at home to try to calm her down, and let her know that she was a friend in the school for her. She also wrote Anna an excuse for absence due to her being so upset & her foot acting up over this teacher confronting her. I have a copy of that excuse in my folder at home.
This child is afraid to ask for help. I addressed this with the school, and Mr. Notto kept making a mockery out of it. He kept telling me that we could not discuss things in the past, even the letter he had written to me. I told him that he was going to listen to me, as my child had rights.
When Mr. Notto investigated my fax to him, as he put it in his return letter to me, the only person that was investigated was my daughter. She was brought into the office, and was told how to follow policies and procedures. This child DID NOT break policies and procedures. She answered for a letter that I wrote. He never called me, even though I was the one who wrote it. My child had to answer Once again for something that the principal should have handled with me.
At this meeting, he told me that if I had our physician write an excuse for her regarding absenteeism & her bus stop, it would be changed. I had my family physician write these excuses, as there are only a few doctors in the world that can help her. I told Mr. Notto if he wanted to pay for a better excuse from a more qualified doctor in the field, that I would oblige him after he told me on the phone that he had a personal problem with my doctor's excuses. I called our doctor, and let her be aware of it, in the event that it would again be someone's word against his.
That is how we got the Chapter 15 Service Contract. It also stipulated on the contract, that I was to call the school every time that Anna was absent. I have fulfilled my end of the contract. Anna has missed a lot of school. I also called the school the one morning to report Anna off, and spoke with Mr. Notto. I told him that I had found a place that was offering us hope, but I could not guarantee how much school Anna could attend, as her foot was gradually getting worse. I mentioned a tutor, and was told to send her to the school and he would push her around in a "Chair". He would not even say wheelchair. He just kept telling me to bring her to school. He kept cutting me short.
I have tried to have Anna in school as much as possible, but I kept explaining that the condition of her foot was getting worse, and have kept the school nurse updated. She can verify what I say.
The school told me that I needed an excuse from Boston, telling them that we had been there, EVEN though it was on a Saturday appointment. Anna missed school prior to our trip, but it was because of the condition of her foot, not because we were gone.
I took Anna to Boston. A team of doctors met with us, and diagnosed Anna with the problem that Linda Shannon, in her letter to me mentions. Anna has a vascular malformation. Everything in that letter fits Anna, I am very sad to say.
I want to also add the mental anguish that we have had to face over these last years, being in a situation that we have no control over. It rips a parent's heart out to see their child suffering, and not being able to do one blessed thing.
It also causes added anguish when the school is doing their best to punish a child for having a physical handicap, and none wants to listen. It is a very helpless filling that I hope that you all never have to face.
The physicians thought that they could operate, and sent us home to have an MRI's of Anna's foot, send it to them, and they were bringing in an orthopedic surgeon, then we would meet with him in February.
Please keep in mind that we came home from Boston Sunday evening. I went to the school on Monday to speak with Mr. Notto. He saw no reason for us to meet. I explained to him what had happened in Boston, let him copy the MRI orders, our appointment card, and gave him the EXCUSE. I spoke with him at that time regarding me picking up Anna's homework at the school, as she was going to be out & missing a lot. I saw no way she could come to school, as she was having new symptoms of severe cramps and pain in her foot. She was crying and sweating, causing me to have to call
the doctor in Boston. Mr. Notto told me he saw no reason for me to get Anna's homework, as the 9 weeks had just ended, and her grades were good. I left it at that.
I also want to you to make note that I never in all these 9 weeks received a progress report from the school.
I took Anna for her MRI's and we brought them home, me being able to see the extreme change in comparisons of 3 1/2 years ago. I took those MRI's out to the nurse the next morning, which she can verify how bad the growth is. It extends from Anna's toes to her heal. I then asked the physician in Boston to fax a homebound paper to the high school,
as when I had been in to see Mrs. Walker that morning, she was as frustrated as I was concerning Anna's foot & the situation at school. I spoke with her about Mr. Notto's and my conversation, and told her that I was frustrated over the situation. That is the reason for the homebound papers, as Anna was in severe pain.
Our physician faxed those papers to the school, temporarily putting 6 weeks until they could view the MRI's.
From that point, the physician's have viewed Anna's MRI's & decided that surgery is too dangerous on her at this time. Their plan is to do a series of embolizations every month to bi-monthly, to try to shrink this growth down into the operable stage. That is our goal, and we are all praying that it works. I also ask you to keep in mind that we will be flying to Boston every month or bi-monthly for these procedures, which the doctor's office informed me today that they will provide a private airplane & pilot to take us free of charge. If this was not necessary, I do not honestly think that they would do that.
I, again, went to the high school to explain it to Mrs. Walker, as Mr. Notto is not a pleasant person to talk to. She walked with me to the guidance office, and I got Anna's homework, that she had had me write a note for the week before. I turned in Anna's past books, and collected her new ones. (please note that a lot of her homework is based on labwork done in the class, and she has no idea what was done). I asked Mr. Foresman to have Mr. Notto call me concerning Anna's tutor, and asked if I could pick up Anna's report card two days later. I also gave him a form letter, requesting my daughter's contract be opened to add a tutor, which I have every right to do.
When I called the school two days later to see if her report card was ready, I was told that she had all incompletes.
As I spoke with the secretary on the phone, Anna's English teacher walked in with a C for her grade.
I asked Mrs. Slicker to have Mr. Foresman call me immediately, as I was wondering how "GOOD" grades turned into incompletes & a C from a child who was an honor roll student the last 9 weeks of last year, and when I have been repeatedly asking for help.
I then called Mrs. Walker, and she told me that she would check it out for me. She told me that she would make sure that Mr. Foresman called me, as I promised her that I would not take any action with an attorney until 12 noon the next day. I voiced my frustrations to her, and she told me she most certainly understood.
This morning, February 3, Mr. Notto calls me in the place of Mr. Foresman. He is telling me that I am not understanding him, that I am getting everything confused, and that if Anna fails this year, that it is her fault not completing her work. I asked him how she could complete her work when she wasn't allowed to get it? I asked him when we were going to have a tutor, and asked him why he told me that my daughter's grades were good when they were I's.
He told me that he never said that, and that he was not going to send a tutor in until Anna comes home from her next appointment in Boston. Anna has already missed 2 full weeks of school today. We will be getting back from Boston on
Feb. 25th late in the evening. Which means, that only leaves Friday of that week. If Mr. Notto waits until that next week, It will be a total of 6 weeks since she had any schooling. Also, please note that we are to go back sometime in the middle of March for another appointment. I explained that I wanted a tutor now, but was told that
we were not going to get one. I told him that I wanted Anna's contract opened, and he told me it was not important?
He told me that it had nothing to do with this situation. I ask you, WHY NOT? This contract is the only blessed thing that is protecting my daughter.
I have been in contact with my daughter's physician ONCE AGAIN over this, and he is refaxing an entire school year homebound request.
I have spoken with The superintendent today, a school board member, my daughter's physician, and an attorney. The attorney's office is on hold at this time, and feel that this is a very good case.
I do not want to press this issue, but want what I have always wanted, what is fair for my child.
I ask you to see that my child has a tutor in our home immediately so that she can get her education that she legally has the right to have.
We are tired of smart remarks, this unnecessary harassment, discrimination, and abuse that is taking place.
At this time, I ask you to do what is right, and educate our daughter, and let us be able to concentrate fully on our child's upcoming medical needs. This is mental abuse to me, my daughter, and I am ready to hand this over to our attorney.
Please, I ask you to do what is right & stop this.

Thank You for your time,

Continue with The Second Letter to the Board

 

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Last modified: August 31, 1999 02:18:03 AM

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