We Have Always Heard That Public Schools Have to Accept Every Student. It’s a Lie. And My Daughter Is Proof. - Granite Grok

We Have Always Heard That Public Schools Have to Accept Every Student. It’s a Lie. And My Daughter Is Proof.

In the spring of 2020, at my daughter’s annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, the Timberlane School District proposed that my daughter receive parts of her education in their learning center/ resource room. As an equal decision-making member of my daughter’s education plan, I was not in agreement with the IEP Team proposal.

Timberlane School District had not created a safe and supportive educational environment for my daughter because the district did not address constant, repetitive bullying behaviors she had been experiencing inside the resource room.

The frequently targeting she experienced in the resource room increased my daughter’s stress responses. The IEP Team failure to address the pleas of myself and my daughter ultimately led me write to the Timberlane School District Superintendent for a request to come before the Timberlane School Board for a Manifest Educational Hardship. The Superintendent denied my request and did not provide me with any rights to appeal his decision.

With my daughter’s IEP Team and the Timberlane School District refusing to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what had been happening, I reached out to the Disability Rights Center-NH, which is limited in their scope of service but supported me in receiving a hearing with the Timberlane School Board.

We want to thank NH State Rep Glenn Cordelli for submitting this Parent’s Letter to us. If you have 
an Op-Ed or LTE you would like us to consider, please submit it to Editor@GraniteGrok.com.

Timberlane School Board voted to approve my request for a Manifest Educational Hardship which means that a student has a documented hardship in his or her current educational placement, and transfer to another public school or an approved private school.

The Timberlane School District left it up to me to find a new placement for my daughter to receive her free public appropriate education without any assistance to help me understand how to navigate finding a new placement.

I contacted the neighboring Raymond School District and they requested my daughter’s educational records. They then declined to accept my daughter in their public school with the reason that it was due to the COVID pandemic. I made contact with Sanborn Regional School District who declined to accept my daughter in their public school due to COVID.

With no public placement willing to accept my daughter, I reached out to the NH Department of Education to request a meeting with the NH State Board of Education about the barriers to accessing an educational placement for my daughter and her IEP. Stephen Berwick, NHDOE Coordinator, Dispute Resolution and Constituent Complaints, informed me through email that the NHDOE had no authority in the matter and had no suggestions for my daughter to receive an appropriate free public education.

Having no support and guidance and watching my daughter’s health & mental wellness decline, I reached out to Pinkerton Academy, which accepted her placement in April of 2021. In the special education IEP team meeting, I shared my parental input about the least restrictive environment for my daughter and advocated for an educational environment with her non-disabled peers.

Pinkerton Academy ignored my concerns about the resource room and placed my daughter into the learning lab/ resource room. After two weeks there my daughter did not feel safe & supported and she refused to go back to in-person learning at Pinkerton Academy. She was forced to switch to total remote learning.

I noticed my daughter was being marked absent on the schools’ parent portal even though I was with my daughter while she was participating in her remote learning classes. Pinkerton Academy did not reply to my emails and failed my daughter in every subject.

On August 24, 2021, I received a mailed letter from Pinkerton Academy unilaterally unenrolling my daughter due to my refusal to accept the school placement to the learning lab/resource room and my advocating for my daughter to be in a safe and supported environment. My daughter has no public school placement to receive her special education, no support and no services. I have requested that the U.S, Department of Education step in for my daughter to receive her free and appropriate education and take corrective actions on school obligations to students in special education and parent involvement in the special education process.

We have always heard that public schools have to accept every student. It’s a lie. And my daughter is proof.

Name withheld to protect my daughter