When a School Fails Children with Special Needs
Martinsburg, West Virginia is home to Berkeley Heights Elementary School. It serves nearly 800 children (predominantly white) in pre-K through third grade, as well as a classroom for special needs children.
Before I go on, can I tell you about the fear that plagues us? Us, the families who belong to those children who landed not so perfectly on this earth.
Our kids can’t tell us what’s wrong or tattle when danger lurks and that truth is a mountain that I never stop climbing.
My youngest son, Amos, has autism and every day, I am thankful for his classroom that is filled with love.
Like Amos, Adri has autism, but she is in the special needs class served by Berkeley County Schools. Her mother noticed she was not herself, but since she’s nonverbal, her mama put a small microphone in her hair and sent her to school.
That evening, she listened to the eight hour recording.
I ought to backhand you right in the teeth. I’ll punch you in your face. You got to go pee-pee or you just wanna go jack-off in a chair? I’m going to pull your hair until you start crying. Don’t throw it, you animal. You wench. You’re like a Pygmy. I’m gonna knock you out.
Your tears dried up so quickly…crocodile.
Three teachers bullied, threatened and spewed hatred that brings a special needs parent to their knees.
She shared it with the principal who said the teacher’s aide wasn’t talking directly to her daughter. Though she pulled Adri out of school, other children stayed in the classroom with THOSE teachers and their parents were NEVER contacted.
Frustrated, Adri’s mom released the recording. The teachers were placed on administrative leave (paid, of course) during an investigation. After which, one teacher resigned and the district attorney said no charges could be filed.
Adri’s mom said, “No one talked to her in a friendly manner ALL DAY except for the bus driver and bus aide (shocker- she loved them.)”
Adri is six year old, not much older than my Amos, and this story is the worst I have ever told.
To the families like my own?
Follow your gut.
And to the ones who speak like that to our children?
May God forgive you, because I don’t think I could.