A Typical Child Wants, a Special Education Student Needs

L.J. Murphy, MFA
Oct 2 · 3 min read

I overheard two parents complaining about the associated costs to their district to send a child with a disability to an out of district school. They were obviously involved with their local board of education. And they clearly didn’t realize they were in the company of a special needs mom.

Why should a child who can’t behave take fifty-thousand-dollars away from our budget? What about our technology needs and the sports budget? How is it fair for our kids to make sacrifices for a bad kid?

He was in my daughter’s class last year and that kid was a royal pain in the ass. His outbursts were downright dangerous.

His parents need to just discipline him.

Maybe if he were homeschooled, they’d have to.

And there is nothing wrong with our special education program, our teachers are qualified to teach him just fine. It’s his behavior that is out of control and we are all paying for it with our kid’s sacrifices.

That last part lingered on me. Their kid’s sacrifices. Their kid’s sports. Their kid’s technology.

While I try not to get myself involved in these sort of conversations once they have reached a certain point because I am that parent. That parent of a child with a disability that impacts their ability to behave. A child who has been sent to out of district schools for the last eight years on the tax payer’s dime. A parent who knows about the federal protections granting our child access to FAPE under the IDEA.

But these parents haven’t got a clue. And to not have a clue and be involved in the BOE?

Until every child in the district is placed appropriately and engaged in productive learning — sports and technology don’t matter.

No child’s education is less important than a software program or sports team. Those are activities that parents can choose for their children to be involved in. That they can pay for their child to be involved in.

But occupational therapy for a child to learn to hold a pencil properly is not a choice. It is a need.

Speech therapy for children to learn to communicate through words, signs or devices is not a choice. It is a need.

Paraprofessionals placed into classrooms to assist children with a variety of accommodations from language interpretation to keeping a child on task and to help with toileting is not a choice. It is a need.

Sending a child with behavioral needs to an out of district school that has the tools and design to help that child succeed is not a choice. It is a need.

Helping children with disabilities learn in an environment more prepared to manage and implement a behavior intervention plan than a teacher in a public school district who is struggling to keep the rest of her class safe from a student whose behaviors pose a danger to themselves and others is a need.

At the end of the day, the school district is at fault when it comes to keeping all children safe, so why should that school sacrifice safety for another child’s sports and technology?

I wanted to tell them that attempting to block students with disabilities from their federal rights only leads to lawsuits and litigation, bad press and media attention, which hurts their budget by choice, not by need.

L.J. Murphy, MFA

Written by

educator, advocate, blogger www.mischiefmomma.com

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