Dear Editor

My name is Karen and I am writing this letter as a voice for my son who is unable to speak for himself.

I have an 11 year old moderate/severely Autistic son named Kade. At this point in time he is attending school at Scammon Elementary in Cherokee County Kansas.

He began school a the age of three at Spencer Elementary School in Cherokee County, Kansas. I realized then that getting my son diagnosed with Autism was the easy part, but having the school provide the necessary supports to aid my son in succeeding was much more difficult.

After a few difficult years in Spencer School, he began to finally adjust. That was short lived because he was then sent to Park School (regular education classroom) in Columbus for two hours a day and Riverton Elementary School (special education classroom) for the remainder of the day.

I was told after a very short period of time that Kade was too much to handle in the regular Education room, and he was making it difficult for the others to learn.

He was taken out of Columbus school all together. He made quite a few gains in Riverton so I was okay with that. He went from picking pennies out of play dough and only doing dot to dot puzzles to reading, writing, math and many other things at his grade level. This was in the second grade. After a year there, I was informed that his special education class was being moved to a building in Galena (not a school, but a building). I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, so Kade began the next year there.

I received note after note regarding his behaviors, and the work that was being sent home was preschool work, I went there to spend the day to observe him. In my opinion, the environment was inappropriate to say the least for any child in school. There was no atmosphere of a school at all, no non disabled children to learn from, no work being done with Kade beyond preschool level. He had at that time  regressed back to when he had started school when he was three years old (picking pennies out of play dough, dot to dots, etc.) I requested that Kade be taken out of there immediately. Kade was then moved to Pittsburg School for temporary placement until they could figure our what to do with him.

He was then taken to a new program in Scammon School which I am now being told they are moving our of the school to have extra space for apparently nothing.

To have extra space in my opinion is very sad. The children with disabilities bring to the school districts funding, but yet they get so very little. They get so little that they can not even have a classroom for more that one or two years without it being taken from them so the school can have extra space.

I am very frustrated obviously, but I am wondering how other parents, even the ones with non-disabled children would feel if their child had no school, no classroom, and could not develop relationships with other children because they were moved from school to school and district to district.

I was told they move his special education classroom to the Parish Hall in Scammon or to Cherokee School (this is in another school district). In my opinion, our children are being segregated out of this “regular” education school system.

I was told this was not the decision of the Inner Local but of the Columbus, School District. All children have the same rights. My child has the right to go to Columbus just as any non-disabled child does.

According to the IDEA, my son has the right to have the most least restrictive environment possible. If he is taken out of the regular school and placed elsewhere that would not be possible.

If he is taken out of the regular school and placed elsewhere that would not be possible.

My son has shown in the past how moving him does cause him to regress significantly, therefore I feel this change in placement is not in my son’s best interest. I also feel Columbus school district is required by law to accomodate all children even those with developmental disabilities. Based on my sons diagnosis of Autism as well as his severely delayed socializing ability, I feel that this change in placement would be devastating to the gains he has made in the last two years. When Kade went to KU three years ago they said socialization was the area Kade was the most delayed in and he needed the most focus in this area. Throughout my son’s eight years in this school system, every time he makes any gains they have moved him out of whatever school he has attended and he has time after time continued to regress.

Our school system is limiting his ability to become a functional adult. They are not just preventing him from learning, but actually taking away the skills he has already mastered. People may not feel this directly affects them, but what if you or someone you care about gives birth to a child with a disability? We all know how rapid autism is growing, but there are many other disabilities that are out there as well. We have to prevent this school system from trying to hide our kids and pretending they do not exist, or that they do not matter.

Sincerely,

Karen Snyder