“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, October 14, 2013

A young man attempts self advocacy

The attached video below is an attempt by a young man to advocate for himself relative to his frustration that his IEP objectives were not being addressed by his teacher in his classroom.
The Northport Dispatch (October 11, 2013) states,
"The Northport-East Northport Board of Education cut off a 14-year-old boy from speaking during Monday's meeting when the teen, who has a form of high-functioning autism, attempted to express what he felt was unfair treatment in his classroom due to his disability.
Christian Ranieri held back tears as he left the room after being shut down just a few sentences into his speech, in which he was asking the board to hear him out after he felt he was unfairly suspended for two days from school.
The school board president cited privacy laws in his reasoning for halting Ranieri's speech. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student education records.
Ranieri, a freshman at Northport High School, explained that since the beginning of the school year, his individualized education program and behavior intervention plan have not been implemented. After four weeks without it, his parents called meetings with administrative staff members. When his behavior plan was put in place however, it was done incorrectly, Ranieri said, adding that he was refused when he asked to speak to his teacher outside of the classroom about the error. Out of frustration, he said that he raised his voice at the teacher and was suspended from school for two days for the outburst." 
Here is the video of the presentation...
I love when people are emboldened like this to speak up for themselves.  I have no idea about the specifics of this situation, whether channels wer followed or whatever.  But what I see is a young man self identified as having developmental disabilities, something that takes courage to do. He tells the school board that his teacher is not implementing his IEP which also takes courage.  They don't care.  They tell him the channels to take, his parents indicate they have tried to follow those channels with no success.  All they would have to say is that "We will look into this through the Supt. and he/she will get back to you in __ days."  Instead, they shut him down.
I wish many more parents of students with severe disabilities would call school districts, boards of education, or whomever to account for educational programs not being followed; particularly for students with developmental disabilities.



Anonymous said...

First off, I had a very hard time understanding what was being said in the video. Secondly I have mixed feelings about this.
But with that, I agree more parents should teach their children with any form of a disability to advocate for themselves. At the same time it seemed as though the parents were using their child. The child states that he has behavioral issues and that his intervention plan was not being followed. Because of this a situation occurred that could have been avoided. But was not. So the parents tried to fight but continuously kept getting shut out or turned away. I understand their frustration. As a parent as well as someone with a learning disability myself I would be extremely upset in this same situation. However I do not think I could allow my 14 year old son to do this. People are mean and school districts can be very mean when you call them out for not following the rules. They can bend or break rules but others cannot.
As his mother I would have stood up there with him the entire time and/or spoke for him.

Anonymous said...

The frustration of this young man and his family is by no means an isolated incident. Public schools may be mandated to provide appropriately modified instruction for individuals with disabilities, but even today they don’t necessarily follow the law. A friend of mine has a son, about the same age as this boy, who has been diagnosed with ADD. After the diagnosis, his school prepared a Section 504 plan for him, but his teacher had humiliated him so much before they got there that his attitude about school was that it was a place of hopelessness and rejection. He would be dropped off at front of the school and then as soon as his mother drove out of sight, he would run off. They would find him at the library, park, video arcade, etc. - you get the picture. Since that time, his family has tried a different school within their public school district, a charter school and another round at the original school. Today he is enrolled in another charter school option, the child has been told it’s his last option before being sent to military boarding school. Educating a child with a known disability shouldn’t be impossible, but that is her opinion. In fact, her experiences have led her to the opinion that public schools are unable to provide the basic necessities of education and will in time be replaced by charter schools and other online options. She and her family see no value in the public school system. For those of us about to embark on a career in education, we need to always remember that if we are not able to meet the needs of ALL the children, we are failing. And that could be the downfall of the entire public school system.