The Fax/Return Letter
***This is the Fax I sent to the High School principal.
I have the actual documents at home, as these are just
|August 20, 1998
Apollo-Ridge High School
P.O. Box 46A
Spring Church, PA 15686
Dear Mr. Notto,
Although I appreciate your welcoming my daughter, Anna, back to school for another year, I
am very displeased having recieved the enclosed letter.
I have been debating the last days of how I should respond to something such as this.
After much though, I think that this letter of response best gets my point across. First
of all, I do not make it a habit to "just" keep my daughter home from school,
because I want to give her a day off. We feel that school is very important, but when Anna
is sick, she will stay home as I and her doctor see fit.
I consider your letter harassing and discriminating. the "Action" that you have
felt necessary in order to, what you think, establish attendance is the most ridiculous
thing this school has come up with yet. I am insulted and angered over your insinuations
that we have unnecessarily kept Anna home when, in truth, I have had to keep her home due
to lack of qualified staff to deal with Anna's foot problem. I am not the one who should
be politely threatened or punished with action here. Your term of "Working
Together" means just that. I have called the school, have written down on Anna's
health record, have provided doctor excuses for gym class, showing that Anna has foot
problems. Now, fairly, Anna has brought in excuses because of the flu, virus, fever,
etc..., which I called her doctor and was instructed to keep her home. I do not feel that
you would want her there vomitting or fevering. Most of all, when it concerns her foot,
until you can prove to me that you have qualified, certified medical staff that is trained
to deal with Anna's foot problem, I will keep her home on the days that her foot is
bothering her. (under my doctor's orders of course)
I have had to make trips to the Middle School and the High School over gym excuses that
have been ignored (even when the teacher was aware of the excuse & why she had the
excuse). the excuses were ignored, there have been judgment calls made, and most
annoying--the treatment to my daughter at times by office personnel was harassment,
rudeness, and ridicule over a medical problem that this child has no control over. Telling
a child that their parents need to learn how to read, yelling, ordering, and sarcasm is
harassment when a child needs ice, needs to see a nurse, or needs to call home.
There are times that the nurse is not in when Anna needs ice or care to her foot. When she
asked to call home to notify me, she was told no.
When she asked the secretary for a pass to get back into class, she was told no. Anna told
her that she would get into trouble. The response of the secretary was that it was not her
problem. This is NO WAY to treat children. I understand that you have alot of students,
but they should all be given a fair respons. How these children are being spoken to is
something that should be brought to public attention. Anna had to "Sneak" up to
the guidance office to explain to them that she needed a pass. There was totally no excuse
for this. Her foot was swollen. She can not fake a swollen foot, Mr. Notto, but she was
sent back to class. I didn't realize that the school was medically certified when the
nurse was not present to make medical decisions concerning a foot problem that they know
nothing about. the rude behavior that on occasion has been shown to my daughter is not
what I would call a good example. Anna gets frustrated over her foot problem herself, let
alone having her situation be made a mockery of when she asks to call home. I understand
that it is important that Anna be in school, but when her foot acts up, we need ice on it,
and occassionally crutches depending on the situation (which is not always the same). This
foot is not operable, as there are growths throughout the muscle on the bottom of her
foot. If operated on, there are chances that she could bleed to death. they have also told
me that it would come back worse than before, and it is better to deal with it as it acts
up now and again, as each operation would involve removing muscle. Her foot would
eventually be crippled, and she would have a very noticeable limp, which would be
senseless. I have had to have this child to New York City over this foot.
I do not know how much more I can explain this, but I will not have my child being
punished, discriminated against for missing over a health problem, or talked to rudely
over something she cannot help! Handling absenteism on a child with a handicap through
threatening "actions" with what ou have seen "fit" for punishment if
she does not attend, is totally ridiculous. I think that if anyone were to be taking
action, it should be me through my attorney, and I would have just cause.
I have made it clear to Anna that even though she may be absent occassionally, she must
make up all of her work. She neglected this the third nine weeks of last year. She knew
it, & trust me, it didn't go overlooked. If you would be so kind to "review"
my daughter's last 9 weeks, you will see a noticeable difference. She was on the Honor
Roll, but we were unable to see that until her report card was released from being held
hostage due to fines that it was found my daughter did not owe. What kind of examples are
we setting here?
I would appreciate, yet insist, that you put a copy of this letter in Anna's school record
in the even that I would need my attorney to "review" this whole performance. We
have been working with the shcool over this, and Anna surely could have missed alot
more---but we pushed and worked on her with medication at home & "Ice".
In order for "working together" to be productive, you have to be willing to
"work" on both sides. Anna has three full years of being a student in
Apollo-Ridge School District ahead of her. I do not intend for these years to be stressful
for my child emotionally over a physical problem she has not asked for & was born
with. If I did not take care of Anna's foot, the school would be breathing down my back
I would like to be able to work together through this, but I am not the one, Mr. Notto,
who has showed lack of "Working Together" skills here.
In closing, I look at education as being very important in life. As you will recall,
Michael graduated last year & is attending (college name) this fall in their honors
program. He has been accepted into Who's Who, and is a member of the National Honor
Society. Mike will be majoring in (I left this out). Anna works hard herself, and was very
pleased to be on the Honor Roll the last nine weeks of the year.
My brother and sisters were all members of the National Honor Society, and my sister was a
member of Who's Who. I do understand how important education is! I understand that with
block scheduling that classroom participation is part of one's grade. We are striving to
have Anna lead as normal a life as possible, to attend as much school as possible, and not
have to go through unneccessary hardships. We do not need, nor will we tolerate anymore
harassing, discriminating actions over something that is a Physical Handicap. If Anna
misses school, which will be at my discretion & Anna's doctor, she will make up her
work. If she is failing in any subjects, I would ask that you would notify me, as was not
the case in the 3rd nine weeks of last year. This is just endless! I could say more, but
due to lack of paper & the lack of patience over all of this I will close.
Thank You For Your Time!
So, that was the fax. It took 1 1/2 months of what was called an
investigation to pull my daughter into the office, have to answer for what I wrote, and
the secretary that verbally abused my daughter write it.
I have the original at home, but this is the contents of the return
letter, again 1 1/2 months later:
|Dear Mrs. Cravener:
I am sorry it has taken me so long to answer your FAX of 8/21/98. I wanted to make sure
that I investigated every situation you mentioned, and talked to all involved, including
Anna, prior to responding.
Upon completion of my investigation, it was clear that most of the incidents occurred in
Middle School, and I cannot react to them. The one incident that occurred at the high
school, we had discussed. Anna had not followed the proper procedure for visitation to the
nurse and use of the pay phone, therefore, the response by our secretary would have been
negative in nature. The letter you received requiring Anna to present a doctor's excuse
after three days of absence, was sent to all students with a poor attendance record
throughout the middle school grades. The state laws governing school attendance are quite
explicit, and district policies are established to abide by those laws. The comment in my
letter about working together was sincere, but we must work together in accordance with
those established laws and policies.
I have spoken to Anna concerning your FAX, and I have instructed her on the procedure to
follow should she not be receiving the satisfaction she requires. This should alleviate
any future problems and allow us to react to her needs. If this is not satisfactory, or if
you have any further questions or comments, please contact me at the high school office.
Harry A. Notto
After reading this I sat in shock & then became very angry.
I would like to address a few things at this time pertaining to this letter.
The first paragraph about talking to all involved?
You did not talk to me....My daughter is a minor!
I wrote the letter....Hello????
Second Paragraph: I beg to differ with you. The only things that pertained to the middle
school were the gym excuses. The rest was you and your secretary verbally abusing my child
& refusing ice.
You say you can't react to something from the middle school?
You certainly reacted to my daughter's absences from there.
MY daughter DID NOT break your procedures. SHE is a child with a handicap & needed
ice. Not later....NOW.
The use of your pay phone sir is unclear to the public.
Your secretary, before verbally (along with you) abusing my child tossed my daughter a
quarter for the pay phone.
My daughter was not allowed to use the office phone to call home for crutches. I feel some
sort of contradiction here.
The letter? So all handicapped children in the school district and their parents get
harassed every year?
The state laws? When you are studying laws, why don't you study federal laws? My daughter
The working together part being sincere?. Lets remember this folks, and read more of my
story to see how sincere
we have been treated.
Your last paragraph? You spoke to Anna concerning my fax.
Exactly sir---MY FAX --Not Anna's. All involved????
Your comment of reacting to my daughter's needs?
And exactly what needs are you speaking of.
Could you mean ice, elevation, the things she has been refused? You know nothing of my
daughter's needs. The facts speak for itself.
You spoke to my daughter about how to follow procedure if she is not getting satisfaction?
And just how to they follow procedure if they are having a problem? Come to you?
Go to people who have yelled at them, told them to SHUT UP (somebody's favorite words to
little girls), and send them back to class refusing a hall pass.
Do you send a handicap to a person who puts a child's word against others?
I disagree with you.
Like I said....the rest of the story speaks for itself.
My last comment on this letter. Look at who wrote it.
Look at the initials.
I rest my case.
All this led to the meeting that goes into my story.
So it continues....
Continue with The First Letter to the Board