The Coalition of NH Taxpayers was asked by a mother of a Crotched Mountain Rehab Center student to help keep her 17 year old handicapped son, who is non-verbal, the mental age of between 24 – 36 months, has an electronic seizure device planted in his body to control the nine different seizures he has, needs help with all aspects of going to the bathroom, and has issues with swallowing solid food, to help keep him in the rehabilitation professional center rather than let him be “mainstreamed” into a special life skills program as the Hillsboro/Deering school district wants.
Our taxpayer group looked at this as an opportunity to see what costs are involved in what is known as “out of district placements” because these expenses are often huge portions of any school budget, so we said yes. It also looked fishy as well. Why would a public school want to be involved in the minute by minute care of such a student? And how often do you get a chance to review all the costs and documents involved in a transition like this? So far it seems like a financial loser for the district to attempt this on its own.
I went on April 9, to a transition meeting at the H/D school regarding the transition protocols for Joel thinking it was about putting together a plan for bringing Joel to the school. No it wasn’t. It was more or less a done deal. Any chance at the mother having input as to the transition were pretty much ignored and a final draft of our meeting was sent to the mother a short time after.
The transition team wanted to bring Joel in to H/D two days week and leave him where he was for three. This is about as disruptive as you can get with a person like Joel who needs structure and familiar faces. I thought, as the mother pointed out it was not a good plan.
But what we did do at this meeting was set up a meeting with the Hillsboro/Deering transition team to go to Crotched Mountain and check it out – all day was the plan. I was there when we set up the meeting with CM by speaker phone. The H/D crowd was excited about going.
But the "Life Skills Team" showed up 2 hours and 45 minutes late and because of that were not able to mix in with Joel and the other students he was with as it would be disruptive to all the students. The H/D team tried to convince the CM staff to just let them sneak in for a look but were told it was not advisable. They did get to see him for about 15 minutes. CNHT Director Johnna Gryzwcz drove to CM to attend this 10 am meeting but could only wait so long and had to leave before the H/D crew showed up.
And then came Friday May 2, the first transition test day where Joel, in his wheelchair-like stroller, was supposed to see for the first time the new school he would be attending.
Some of Joel’s current CM staff was there, as was the H/D “Life Skills Team” and two CNHT Directors, Johnna Gryzwacz and Jane Aitken. Jane and Johnna have some background with these situations from family experiences and employment.
The Hillsboro/Deering Life Skills Team finally got their wish to have Joel come to their school. But it did not pan out as well as they hoped.
Joel went into a seizure that caused the Hillsboro Rescue Squad, after a 30 minute delay because they were on another call, to pick him up, IV in arm, and take him to the Concord Hospital where he was treated until 2 pm.
Nice going Hillsboro/Deering SAU #34. You got your way.