I am the parent of a child with Down syndrome. Our family lives on the west side of Traverse City, and she attends Traverse City Area Public Schools. Until this fall she attended her neighborhood elementary school, where she was included in the general education and rode a TCAPS bus with her friends.
Now she is no longer eligible to attend her home school and is bused to East Middle School. I wake her at 4:45 a.m. to catch the bus at 6 a.m.; she arrives home from school at 4:30 p.m. She is on the bus for 3½ hours a day to be transported to a school that is 17 miles from our home.
All this because TCAPS will no longer modify or accommodate the curriculum to her abilities. She was forced into a self-contained Cognitively Impaired classroom. When did TCAPS stop believing in inclusion? All of these decisions were made against her parents' wishes and with no regard to what was really best for our child. Gone are her friends, gone are academic goals, gone are the days when decisions were made for the benefit of the children.
Shocked by differences
My son attends Traverse City Area Public Schools; this is his second year. He receives Special Education Services; he spends a large majority of his time within the General Education classroom and is an active participant; he is provided support to encourage and promote success. In addition, the team of providers and staff working with my son believe in inclusion and his "abilities," embrace my husband and my ideas and dreams for our son, encourage and allow us to be active members of "the team."
I am shocked by the difference between buildings within TCAPS that are supported by the same Intermediate School District and special education administrators.
Did you know four west-side middle school kids are being bused almost four hours daily to and from school to their "program" instead of being "included" in their home school with services provided there? How is that possible? How is it the powers that be think that is OK? When did Special Education become a place?
As a parent I am worried my son could become one of "the four" in just a few short years. It is every child's right to receive an education with his/her peers at their home school.