“Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”
Sometimes it’s important to take a step back especially when you feel yourself approaching an abyss of fear, uncertainty and doubt. It’s important to ask questions. To review what has happened. To ask, could it actually be a good thing, a fair thing, for my child?
Immanuel Kant says, “Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.” This means that when I’m deciding on a course of action, I should ask myself, “Would I be willing to live in a world where everyone did what I’m about to do?”
For myself, yes, I am completely willing to live in a world where everyone stood up for the best interests of their children. I am completely willing to live in a world where everyone spoke for those who cannot speak for themselves.
But do I have reason to believe that the Huntsville City Schools Central Office, Mrs. Amy Sledge, Dr. Ann Roy Moore, and the Board of Education are acting in such a way that the principle of their action could be a law for the whole world? To answer that question, we need to review their actions over the past few weeks.
On March 17, 2011 a “rumor” leaked that the Central Office was planning to place autism students in Huntsville City Schools at the Academy for Academics and Arts.
Parents showed up to the School Board meeting that night to ask about this rumor, and to implore the Board to not take this action. This is an act of segregation and parents, looking out for the best interests of their children, oppose it. Segregation is wrong because it robs our community of the diversity that it needs to survive. Inclusion is crucial for all children because all children have special needs.
This is segregation; this is not fair.
At the board meeting that night, parents were told, it’s just a rumor. There is no “plan.” Dr. Moore claimed of the rumors, “I think this may have been carried a little bit to an extreme. Right now it’s just discussion on how to give the best services to our students that is possible.”
Parents received assurances that no plan will be implemented without the discussion and approval of the Board.
Beginning the following week, parents began attending their children’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for next year. Numerous parents have been told that their children will be moved to a new school next year. For many of us, this follows moves in previous years. Moves that have had a negative impact on our children’s progress. As it often will take months of adjustment to adapt to their new settings, for many of our kids nine months of education turns into only seven, if we’re lucky.
Thus, the “plan” is being implemented without the public discussion or public approval of the board.
This is not fair.
On Wednesday, April 6, 2011, parents asked to meet with Mrs. Amy Sledge, the director of Special Education, to discuss, “the plan,” the moves, and the rumors. Rather than coming to the meeting with the plan in hand to share with us and discuss with us, she showed up sharing a general outline of a plan and claiming that she doesn’t want to publish a plan on the HCS website because parents would then “take that plan to Montgomery to complain that the central office is forcing kids to move.”
She claimed that she would return to her office on Thursday morning, write the plan down and share it with parents. To date, no plan has been shared with parents.
On Thursday, April 7th, parents attended the Board Meeting and heard Mr. Blair ask Dr. Moore if the Board could seeing the plan in writing. Dr. Moore responded that the “plan” was still in development and that it did not make sense to share the plan with the board until it was completed. Evidently, presenting an incomplete plan is wrong, but implementing an incomplete plan makes perfect sense.
This is not fair.
So, where does that leave parents? Is it possible that the “plan” could be good for our children? The clearest answer to that question is that Mrs. Sledge, Dr. Moore, the Central Office, and perhaps the Board appear to believe that the plan is not good for our children; otherwise, they would have no objection to sharing it with parents in writing and seeking their input.
Since they don’t trust their own plan (even though they are legally required under the IEP to involve parents in their child’s education plan), parents of special needs children have no reason to believe that this “plan” is good for their children.
We have no reason to believe that it is fair.
We have made extensive attempts to connect with, to work with, to aid Huntsville City Schools in the process of educating our children. We are not seeking special treatment. We are not simply look out for the needs of our own children. We are simply insisting that the central office, Mrs. Sledge and Dr. Moore, follow the law and discuss public plans for our school system with the public.
We are seeking fairness: nothing more.
This is a reasonable request. We are seeking to be involved in our children’s education, and we’re being turned away empty handed. We are being mocked. We are being accused of obstruction. We have no reason to trust that they are looking out for the best interests of the children.
This is why we are standing up and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
We need you to stand with us because we’re fighting for the fair treatment of your children, too.