I know I’ve mentioned that my youngest is experiencing some ill health lately, and we have been fighting with our school district about it. I think yesterday I threw in the towel and gave up. Or at least it feels like I did.
My youngest suffers from what we’re pretty sure is “chronic daily headaches” which is usually just a really bad headache but triggers into a migraine 2-3x a week. She has a headache every. single. day. without fail. She is never not in pain. We are trying various medications and treatments but thus far nothing has clicked for us to prevent this. We are on the medication carousel of experimentation.
Naturally, it’s translated to some missed school. A LOT of missed school. We have 17 absent days this year and some of those are being treated as truancies by her school district. That’s our fault, btw, the truancies – she didn’t get doctor’s notes in on time and I didn’t check up to make sure she’d handed them in – now they can’t go back and clear them. But beyond that, we have enough absences that a note from me is no longer considered adequate, and so we must have a doctor’s excuse any time she is kept home from school. Policy dictates. Stupid policy. If we don’t have the doctor’s note, it’s truancy and the next step is prosecution.
With no health insurance and migraines that keep her home at least once, usually twice and sometimes even three days in a week, one can imagine how all those visits to the doctor are adding up. Then add in all the days of missed work with no pay so I could take her to the doctor. We’ve started sending her to school with the headaches, just so she’ll be marked present in homeroom. For some reason, if she’s marked present at day’s beginning and then sent home by the nurse, then even if she misses the rest of the day, she’s not “truant.” Usually she starts throwing up from the extreme pain around her first period, goes to the nurse and is back home in bed by 9:30 – but nobody is squawking about that up at the school because it means they get their ADA money so it’s not counted as “missing school” in their books.
We’re doing our best.
I’ve been fighting and fighting and I am tired. Yesterday I got a phone call from my kid, who was hiding in a bathroom with an illicit cell phone, in tears, because the nurse was refusing to let her phone me and kept sending her back to class. She had a migraine. Couldn’t stop vomiting. We don’t keep her medication at school because it knocks her out for several hours – she can’t take it and go back to class. They don’t want her taking it in school and then sleeping in the nurses office. Ok fine, but then let her come home, right? Seems obvious to me.
I think what irritates me the most, no, what enrages me the most is that my child was denied access to a parent. That’s never okay.
Yesterday I realized that the school district is a 500 lb gorilla and I cannot win. Worst of all, my child cannot win. I can’t win this fight. They have more resources, more time, and they just don’t care. So fine. They win. We’re out of options. I can’t face prosecution. We’ve made so many mistakes in this process, failing to document things adequately, failing to insure that Em got those notes in – now we’re 4 months from the end of the year and kind of screwed. By our own mistakes as much as by the district’s stupidity. I own that, sure. Don’t like it, but I own it. I’ve never had a chronically ill child before – it’s a learning curve.
I just wanna know…
When did school administrators become more important than the parent?
Since when is a parent’s word not good enough to excuse a sick child?
What in the hell is up with this bureaucratic nightmare that the public school system is becoming?
Why do they seem content to allow her to fail, as long as they get their state money? I’ve already been told that they are passing her on to the 9th grade even if she flunks every class due to her illness. That doesn’t seem right to me. Of course I don’t want her held back, but, she’s going to go into the 9th grade behind and at a disadvantage and they’re sort of… FINE with that.
The only people who aren’t fine with it are her teachers – bless her teachers, who are working with us via email and allowing her to make up work and learn as best she can. Her marvelous teachers, who are just quietly supportive of her and trying their best to be helpful.
I’ve already mapped out which classes she’ll need to repeat in 9th grade and she’ll probably get some time at Sylvan or a similar tutoring center this summer, just so she’s got some parity with her fellow freshmen in the fall.
Did I mention, I’m baffled?
It was somewhat ironic to me this week when the state supreme court upheld that homeschooling is illegal law. I’ll be watching that battle with interest as it moves into appeal. Not that I want to homeschool, but with our system as broken as it is, you’d think the state would be trying to create more options for families, not less.
Back to your regularly scheduled knitting now… thanks for listening!