Since September, we’ve been fighting the school to get them to treat Namine with as much fairness as possible. Of course totaly equality is impossible; she’s physically handicapped, and what is simple for other children is complex and difficult for her. Still, I believe in letting Namine do as much as she is able, and not confining her to her wheelchair simply because she has one.
The last meeting Jessica and I had with Namine’s teacher and school-appointed physical therapist was not an IEP, but rather a parent-teacher conference. I would hesitate to call it such a lofty name, however; the teacher seemed woefully unprepared. But one thing sticks out in my mind more than anything else from that meeting: it was made clear to us that Namine spends nearly all day (“day” in this case being her time at school, almost three hours) in her wheelchair. Instead of being given the chance to transition from her wheelchair to the floor (and vice-versa), wheelchair to normal kid-sized chair (and vice-versa), and chair to floor (and vice-versa), she was simply kept in the wheelchair. “It’s just easier this way,” the teacher said. Easier for them and easier for Namine, but this isn’t about easy. This is about Namine’s well-being, progress, and ability.
I brought up the discussion from the parent-teacher meeting this morning, and the teachers immediately backpedaled. “That’s not what we said at all. You must have misunderstood.” I kept calm in the face of being lied to – it’s far from the first time – but the point of this meeting wasn’t to bring up past wrongs. It was about making them right, and I believe that it’s enough for now to have made it clear that we’re not screwing around any more. The purpose of this morning’s IEP meeting was to clarify that no longer is Namine to stay in her wheelchair; her teachers know it, and both physical therapists (the trustworthy third-party one and the school-employed liar) know it.
There have been incidents that we chose not to bring up; as Jessica reminded me this morning, we will most likely have to deal with the school district for a long time, so it is best not to burn our bridges. If they continue to screw around with our daughter, however, we will pull her out and home-school her. We’d prefer not to do that, of course. The education aspect, I’m not worried about; Jessica is a good deal more capable than Namine’s current teacher, and Namine loves to learn. No, it’s the social interaction that I desire for Namine. It makes my heart glad to see her forming friendships with her schoolmates, and if we were forced to take that away from her? I would be quite angry. Quite angry, indeed.