A recent post on Autism Vox, titled, Parents against Parents…, brings to light a very disturbing situation in the Cherry Hill, NJ public school system. From reading through the numerous comments, it is apparent that this is truly hot button issue. I hope you’ll give it a read and share your thoughts.
I suppose I should be happy that my son is in a special needs school in our district and that the issue of 1:1 paraprofessional support in the general education setting is not on our radar screen; it may be at some point in the future but not for a few years.
Meanwhile, I have actually had some pretty good experiences with our school; that’s not something I expected to ever say just a short while ago. The principal of Nik’s school retired at the end of March, though he really stopped being fully engaged much sooner than that. The current acting principal is also the case manager. She’s stepped into the job with great gusto and enthusiasm and a wealth of experience and perspective that is sorely needed right now. She is putting a lot of focus on parent involvement —not something her predecessor did well, and she is really taking a hard look at how the school communicates with parents/care-givers. She’s also very clued in to assistive technology in a way that the old principal was not.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in the interview process for the new principal. There were some great candidates, the current acting principal among them. I am not at liberty to give any details yet (I signed a confidentiality agreement) but hope the school board will make its choice at their June meeting; the intent is to have someone on board July 1. I came away from the interviews feeling very hopeful.
The candidates which were sent on to the next round of interviews (with the district super) are equally capable of infusing new life and broader perspective into the school and, I hope, in making it a more vital part of our district and our community. All of which I think would benefit not only our specific school but the community at large as well.
Meanwhile, I have also been asked to serve on the strategic planning committee for our school as well. It feels great to know that family voices do matter and that parental input is valued. I am lobbying hard to get some programs going at our school to bring in speakers sponsored by our state’s parent information training center and to make families feel more included and welcomed at school beyond just picking up and dropping off kids or attending IEP meetings! There are a lot of years of hard feelings which need to be overcome and I think it is going to have to come from the new families.
As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”