I probably have not written enough about this yet but that act of neglect is about to come to an end.
CNHT is helping a family with an autistic son, Joel. He is severely autistic and has a very debilitating form of epilepsy. He can not speak, run, or play with small objects he may swallow. Joel weighs 80 lbs, he is 17. His family is totally dedicated to him and asked CNHT to help keep him in the Crotched Mountain Rehab Center where he has been for six years.
Since moving to Hillsboro/Deering SAU 34 from Henniker where he was placed at CM, Joel has been subjected to a persistent attempt by the H/D Life Skills Team to bring him to that public school. It must be noted that H/D has the top dropout rate in the state and is “in need of improvement” again under NCLB - not a pretty picture.
Yesterday I went to a meeting with Joel’s mom, Cindy, and we sat in a small office and listened to promises that Joel will be well taken care of. Promises are all well and good but this school has absolutely no experience with a student like Joel, who is not an emotionally challenged, or learning disabled student, or one prone to violence. Joel is a medical challenge and needs to be in a rehab center if any student does. That is the simple, inescapable fact.
I have been to the H/D School Board several times with all of Joel’s relevant medical records because I know that the two school board members who have a clue are often left in the dark by the people running the Special Ed. Program. We have signed documents releasing Joel’s records to the public. I have asked the H/D School Board to leave Joel in Crotched Mountain.
The first vote to reverse the Life Skills Team’s quest to have Joel in their program was three to two. We lost. Since the former SB Chairman just resigned a new one has been appointed – they might as well have appointed a turnip or a flower pot, so now we have a three way vote; one no, two yes, one duuh.
Know what else we have?
After the meeting with the H/D Life Skills Team, where every question you ask is answered with a promise, Cindy went home and discovered Joel in his second severe seizure since this process started. The seizure first was during Joel’s original visit to his new “school” where he wound up in the Concord Hospital emergency room, delivered by the Hillsboro rescue Squad.
This seizure finds Joel in Dartmouth Hospital, two day so far. His mother is staying up there with him. Any reasonable person who has seen Joel’s drug history can see that his seizures are fluctuating and he needs consistent, focused care.
But the hearty Hillsboro/Deering Life Skills Team still wants to transition Joel to their “new program.” Will this program be like the dropout program that hasn’t worked? Will this program be like the education programs that have left the school in need of improvement?
I believe this “our program will work this time” fantasy disqualifies the H/D Life Skills Team from participating in any decision about Joel’s education and especially, health.
Did I mention the Life Skills Team already hired a para to work with Joel this summer then changed their minds and decided to leave him at Crotched Mountain? And so the spending of more than it would cost to have professionals take care of Joel begins.