Friday, July 21, 2017

Letter To Editor Regarding Special Needs Student And Education Concerns


I have thought about posting this for quite a while. Many of you know about the struggles that I have had with my son and his success in his school environment. I have withheld many details because I tried to deal directly with with the people and agencies responsible for his education. I have had countless meetings with school and board of education officials. But, the reality is that I am offered many platitudes and assurances that issues will be corrected, but no real action to ever deal with what happened to him has been accomplished. I have contacted the school, the Board of Education, law enforcement agencies, child services, the department of juvenile services, community advocacy agencies, the press and several attorneys. Everyone seems to agree that what has happened to Jed is a travesty, but no one seems to be willing to step up to actually correct the situation. So, I am posting this on social media in the hopes that someone will join me in this cause. The people that have directly harmed my son need to be held accountable. Something needs to be done in this county to ensure that other special needs kids NEVER have to endure what my child has endured. Here is Jed's story. If you feel so moved, please contact me. What has happened to Jed has happened and I will deal with that. I am his Mom, that's my job. But, in the future, I don't want Jed or any other child to ever have to experience what he has experienced this last year. This is the letter I sent to the county Board of Education.  I am leaving all names in this narrative because these people need to be held accountable for their actions. Share, share, share this story. If you know these people personally, ask them why they behaved in such a deplorable manner.  This is his story...

My son Jedidiah Allard, is a third grade student at Delmar Elementary School.  Some of you are aware of the situation regarding Jed and some are not.  As of this date, my son is not attending school because Delmar Elementary School is no longer a safe and secure environment for him.  Jed is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder and ADHD/ADD.  He has attended Delmar Elementary since kindergarten and has had an IEP and BIP in place since that time.  During his time at Delmar, Jed has excelled academically but he has needed continual work on his social and behavioral issues. 

I am going to provide you with some background on Jed's situation so I can address my immediate and pressing concerns.  During his second grade year there was an incident when Jed was escalated and acting out.  An administrator was called to assist during this episode and the administrator that responded was Mike Bievenour.  During that encounter Mr. Bievenour picked up a hard backed book, threw it at Jed and struck him in the side and chest.  A staff member reported the incident to Social Services and an investigation was completed. The police decided not to charge Mr. Bievenour for the incident because it did not "rise to the level of abuse". Immediately after the investigation was closed, Mr. Bievenour was placed back at Delmar Elementary.  This man's presence in the school has been a major trigger for Jed since this incident.  Jed asked only for an apology from Mr. Bievenour so he could put the incident behind him and move on.  This request was made several times last year and even into this year.  That request was never granted. As a result, Jed's anger and resentment over the incident has continued to escalate.  Approximately two months ago, Jed encountered Mr. Bievenour when he was going to one of his "safe rooms" to de-esclate. When Jed saw Mr. Bievenour he kicked him in the shin and tried to hit him with his jacket.  Mr. Bievenour's response to this incident was to contact the school SRO and have Jed charged with assault and battery. This was a turning point for Jed.  The anxiety and fear associated with being at school has significantly and steadily increased since this incident and his behavior has escalated, to include leaving school grounds on two separate occasions, which he had never done before.

As a result of him leaving school grounds, he had another encounter with a school SRO, Deputy Farmer on 4/11/17.  Their first meeting seemed to go well as Deputy Farmer was able to talk with Jed about the dangers of leaving school and about making better choices. Two days after this encounter, Deputy Farmer happened to be in the building when Jed was having a meltdown. Jed's one-on-one called the office for assistance.  Upon hearing the call, Deputy Farmer made the decision to try and talk to Jed again instead of allowing the school to follow the procedures already defined in Jed's IEP and BIP.  In Jed's agitated state, he refused to respond to the officer's requests to talk.  Deputy Farmer then handcuffed Jed and transported him to the hospital under EP protocol.  The following Tuesday, 4/18/17, Jed was once again having a meltdown and once again Deputy Farmer happened to be in the building and once again Deputy Farmer inserted himself into Jed's situation when the one-on-one contacted the office for administrative assistance with Jed instead of allowing the school to follow the procedures already defined in Jed's IEP and BIP.   Again, Jed refused to talk to Deputy Farmer.  As a result, Jed was handcuffed once again and taken this time to the Sheriff's Office and placed in a holding cell. Criminal charges are pending against my son for both of these incidents. That same day, Jed and I met with Michelle Meyers, Judy Nicholson and Ryan Kessler at the Board of Education offices.  During this meeting Jed was able to express the anxiety and fear he feels every time he enters the school.  He was able to communicate his level of resentment and anger over the situation with Mr. Bievenour and how he was not able to put aside those issues because nothing had ever been done by Mr. Bievenour to apologize or even acknowledge that his actions were wrong. 

Whenever Jed enters the school, he feels physical symptoms caused by his anxiety and fear. His ability to cope while at the school has deteriorated to the point of daily outbusrsts.  He and his twin sister have been subjected to repeated comments from students regarding Jed publicly being arrested, cuffed and removed from the school by police. The situations that have led to this point have damaged him to the point that I cannot put him back into an environment that would further compromise his mental well being and might also subject him to additional arrests should an SRO happen to be in the building when Jed has any type of outburst.

So, here is where we are at this point.  I cannot return my son to a place where he has no sense of safety and security.  With these incidences, he now not only has issues with Mr. Bievenour who he continues to encounter daily, he also fears Deputy Farmer. I also cannot place Jed in a position where this deputy might happen to be in the building and arrest Jed again.  This officer does not know my son, does not understand his diagnosis, has no special education training in dealing with autistic children and does not even ask the school administrators or personnel who deal with Jed daily about how the school normally deals with Jed.  Instead, he has two times now, placed himself, without the request of the school into Jed's situation and both times have resulted in Jed's arrest.  Keep in mind that Jed has attended Delmar Elementary for nearly four years and out of all of the outbursts that have occurred during that time the school has felt the need for police intervention ZERO times, never, not once.  Now suddenly in two out of three encounters with this officer Jed has been arrested twice.

In my meeting on Tuesday, I expressed these concerns and asked for assistance in placing Jed somewhere where he could complete the school year.  Ms. Meyers shared this information with Susan Jones and I was told that I would receive a call back by close of business on Tuesday.  I did not receive a call that day or on Wednesday.  Yesterday, an IEP meeting was held and I again reiterated my concerns and stated again that Delmar was not a safe environment and  for Jed and he could not return there.  The personnel in attendance at that meeting told me that they could not make a decision regarding school placement and again directed me back to the Board.  Your names were given to me at the appropriate persons to contact regarding this urgent situation.  I have requested that the school send Jed's work home with his sister so that can be completed at a minimum.  However, this is not an adequate substitute for meeting his educational needs.  In addition, I am extremely concerned that his PARCC testing begins next week and there is no plan in place for getting these tests administered to Jed.  Also, I do not want Jed's non-attendance to constitute a violation of any truancy laws.  I want him in an education setting, but his currently assigned one is not a safe environment and the issue needs to be addressed and resolved.  

Respectfully​,

Cindy Morris

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

my daughter went to Delmar ele and she loved it great teachers and support staff it sounds like your son needs to go elsewhere for his schooling maybe home school would work just a thought

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, Delmar is getting a new principal this year. That doesn't change the previous actions, but perhaps things will be better moving forward. The assignments for the SRO's are made (I believe) but the WCSO. You might request a meeting with them.

Anonymous said...

Try contacting Maryland Disability Law Center as well as Bonnie Larimore at the Parent Place of Maryland. They may be able to help.

Anonymous said...

While I have compassion for this mother, I must state that I have a child at Delmar who has recounted to me on many occasions the behavior exhibited by the child in question. My child was relieved when this child was no longer in her classroom.

Anonymous said...

I also have compassion for this mother however, school is a place that is for learning and these types of children take up a lot of the staff's time that they should be directing to the classroom. The public has no idea the numbers of kids in all these schools that do NOT belong in the classroom with children that are trying to learn. Maybe she should consider home schooling him. I don't believe in the no child left behind and feel sorry for the extra staff it takes to babysit these kids.....and for many that is exactly what we are doing!Parent needs a break (which I understand) but school is not a day care!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with 11:45 AM above.
It is an unfortunate fact that these mentally challenged kids disrupt the classroom while normal kids are trying to learn. Plus the taxpayers have to fund the "one-on-one" person and cover all of the other extra expenses caused by this child, and of course the many others like him throughout the school systems.

This mother wrote, "again reiterated my concerns and stated again that Delmar was not a safe environment and for Jed and he could not return there."

Well the school is save. It appears that teachers and administrators are trying to protect him AND other kids, in addition a sworn law enforcement officer is present at the school.
To protect her son and the other kids and staff.

Maybe it is time for Mom to realize that the really sad, unfortunate truth is her kid is just not normal and is too sick to have a place in society, especially amongst normal school children. Just keep him home, or perhaps there are special schools or institutions where he could be warehouses.

Anonymous said...

You dont want to mess with Mr. Bievnhour, he was at salisbury Middle and he dont play. Aint no body got time for that.

Anonymous said...

I feel the need to add comment to this situation. The mother states that "Delmar is not a safe environment for Jed". Sadly I will tell her that Jed makes the school a disruptive environment for other children.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that many of these comments are hurtful and perhaps confusing to this Mom. There are no easy answers to a situation like this. Jed did not ask to have this disability nor did his mother. I don't think parents are wrong to expect their child to be in a safe learning environment and, be allowed to learn. This is just my humble opinion- when the decision was made to mainstream all children into the same classrooms, this is the result. Education is compromised for children who do not have disabilities. And the children who do have disabilities get short changed as well. While I find the suggestion of "warehouse" rather offensive, I do think that placing children with similar disabilities and similar education needs together in a classroom with a highly trained teacher and suitable number of aides would seem like a win win situation for all. I don't believe that would be discrimination. I think that would be the epitome of meeting all children's needs.

Anonymous said...

Send Jed to Worcester County. He will be catered to, allowed to behave as he wishes and roam the hallways to disrupt classes he is not even in. And there are no disciplinary actions that will be taken. Every one will be happy.

Anonymous said...

3:25 above: get your facts straight

Anonymous said...

I work there and see it every day. I am an assistant whose hands are tied.

Anonymous said...

If contacting all of the agencies you mentioned did not grt you the results yoy want than maybe, just maybe, the problem is you and your son. Perhaps the school is finding the need to involve law enforcement because despite all the interventions you mention the outbursts are getting more violent and something needs to be done. I can assure you if your child hurts someone as an adult the justice system won't care about his IEP! The other children in that school have the right to feel safe too and it sounds like your son has taken that right away on many occasions. Stop looking for apologies, unless you plan on having your child apologize to every person he has injured or scared along the way. I'm not sure what you think posting on a blog will do to help your child.

Anonymous said...

A kid just like this was tormenting my child so I pulled her out of public school after they repeatedly refused to do anything about it. The bully was "untouchable"and not dealt with because he had one of those ABC disorders add,ADHD,whatever! I feel for the mother but her son sounds like he is spiraling into violence and it will not end well for him if he stays violent and disruptive. It seems like every other kid has some issue that requires special ed status and someone told me its because if a Dr diagnoses them with whatever disorder the parents can get a ssi check for life. Funny I don't recall so many kids with disorders when I was in school.The mother seems oblivious to the fact that her child is a danger to other kids.

he she said...

I have seen this mother interact with Jed and she can not control him. Maybe it starts at home?

Anonymous said...

It is true that there is an ssi check for kids who are labeled special needs. Huge scam.

D Light said...

You all have no idea about autism.Pinecrest is a better choice for a child who has these behaviors. Or if he is that severe Dove Pointe works with these students. Mom call the Health dept in Salisbury and find out what you can about Wraparound services. Your son is young do him a favor and call. Sometimes gen ed schools dont wont and cant provide the specialised care trained personal can.

D Light said...

Maybe it takes training, education. And consistancy, support not critism.A parent support group is a good start. There ia an autism support group in Salsibury via call the Board of Ed for info for PARENTS.

D Light said...

Maybe it takes training, education. And consistancy, support not critism.A parent support group is a good start. There ia an autism support group in Salsibury via call the Board of Ed for info for PARENTS.