My son sat on the couch at home with puppy dog eyes and his brand new Super Mario backpack. The questions for us were endless this morning; “Why am I not going to school today?” “When am I going to school, Mommy?”. While I could think of a million distasteful responses directed towards the Toronto District School Board, I simply explained that his new school are still figuring out what classroom he will be in. When A asked me the same questions again in a few short minutes, it became harder to lie. I hate lying to kids.
From my last post, A finally received a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) in the afternoon for the remainder of the school year. To accommodate our growing family, we have since moved into a larger house in a different ward, so alas, are at step 1 again. Atleast it feels like it. In May, I went to meet with A’s new principal who did not seemed to thrilled to meet me. I’m sure D.F. (A’s old principal) may have passed on the word that I am very persistent and in not so nice words. During that visit in May, S did not hesitate to make me feel unwelcome. She began by refusing all forms of proof of address because they were not from an utility company or had my spouse’s name on it. Afterwards, immunization was an issue. A is fully immunized, however, being that we moved and already provided this information twice last year – you’d think we’d get cut a break. Nope. Then when I mentioned that we would like A to start SK in September, she put on a big, fake smile and told us to come back then. Today, I dreaded the idea of having to go back and deal with S. To my surprise, I was introduced to a new principal, J.L.
Our conversation seemed positive at first as she asked questions that gave the illusion that she was truly interested in A, his learning and even boasted that she had her Spec. Ed qualifications. Gradually, the illusion was just that – an illusion. One teacher was permitted to persistently interrupt what I consider to be important learning time between parents and school administration. Not only did I feel like my time wasn’t valued, I was hit with the nauseating line, “We have 500 students whom all need access to our SNA”. Then came the double whammy – “A may not be able to start until next week”. J.L mentioned that A’s OSR was still at his previous school despite my efforts to get the ball rolling back in May. She also expressed concern regarding when and at what length A should start school although A has already been through full-day Kindergarten – many months without support at school. Among all that was mentioned, I was expected to pick up A from school if the school could not “handle” him. While the short conversation was blood boiling to say the least, I learned a lot. A’s new class, whatever one that will be, won’t have more than 20 students and will be a half-day SK class. J.L. stated she would contact me at the end of the day to let me know where they plan on placing A.
I went about my errands for the day was eager to return home to locate new contact information for the new Superintendent and Trustee for our ward. Just before I headed home, I received a phone call from J.L stating that A can start school tomorrow for an hour, progressing eventually to the full half-day. Once I got home, I shared the great news with A and our family. By then, it seemed like the thrill was gone for him as he probably could sense that it was going to be the second day of school not the first. We looked up J.L. on the Ontario College of Teachers, only to discover that the illusive feeling I picked up was right. J.L has no qualifications for Spec. Ed, in fact, has very little teaching experience in the classroom period.
Despite all that has happened today, the one thing that stands out is the look on A’s face when he couldn’t be at school like all the other little boys and girls in our community. No child should be excluded or sent home from their very first day at school due to lazy, incompetent school administration and staff.
Stay tuned for my next post on A’s ‘first’ day of Senior Kindergarten and strategies to get a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) in the classroom for your child