So last week I sent an email, CC'd to several people in our school district, asking a whole list of questions regarding the 8th grade class trip to be held in October. (deposits are due in April.) The email was sent to the Superintendent, Director of Special Education, Building principal, Angela's special ed. teacher, and the "Tour Moderator" (aka 8th grade social studies teacher).
The Superintended responded within just a few minutes, and had clearly not read the email. I responded back just as quickly, asking her to please go back and read the entire email, and to answer my questions as best she could.
The 8th grade teacher responded, and wanted me to meet with him to "talk this out." Normally, that would have been my FIRST step, but these are questions in which the answers have potential legal ramifications, AND I want the answers in writing.
I have yet to get ONE SINGLE ANSWER to any of my questions!
So I contacted an attorney who specializes in educational law, who also put me in contact with the supervising attorney from the MN Disability Law Center, who I just finished speaking with. He has several questions that he will be finding the answers to (most of which I have already asked but nobody has answered.) so that he can determine which is the best course of action. From this point on, all correspondence with the district will be forwarded to him as well.
So, here's the email I sent this morning:
I'd like to preface my response by saying I'm not usually "like this". I think every teacher we have ever worked with in the district will agree that I'm very easy to work with, and I have reasonable expectations for my child. As you said, I know her better than anyone, and am fully aware of what she is and is not capable of. I also won't knowingly put her into situations that would set her up for failure. However, those same teachers will also tell you that I am fiercely advocative of my child's rights. I don't need a pat on the back for doing it. Like every other parent, it's the job I was given the day my child was handed to me. I don't like to be "that mom", yet there are times when it becomes necessary. This is one of those times.
Typically, my first step would be to drop by school and ask you some questions. You know, no big deal. I understand you may not see this situation as being any different, but I can assure you, it is far bigger.
This isn't about just Angela attending the trip. It is about all the students with physical and cognitive disabilities in the district who have been, or have the potential to be left out of events such as this trip. It is about the district choosing a tour company who is not inclusive of ALL District *** students, when there are other companies conducting the same tour, who do not charge a fee for the 1:1 staff to attend with the student. It is about District *** students with disabilities not being included as "ambassadors of the district" along with their non-disabled classmates without paying almost 3x as much money for the trip. It is about my child having equal access to everything her classmates do, something she is entitled to under the ADA, and section 504.
I would love nothing more than to get this sorted out smoothly, and without damaging my relationship with with the district. Attorney D. S. from the Minnesota Disability Law Center has advised me to hold off on any meetings until he is able to gather some information and determine who (myself, District 196 or Educational Tours INC) is responsible for covering the cost of a 1:1 for Angela to attend the DC trip.
In the meantime, I need to put a deposit down on the trip, but am hesitant to do so without guarantee of a refund, and it's unlikely this matter will be sorted out by the deposit deadline.