I admit it people, I lost it. I saw red when dealing with the school yesterday and I told the principal to call C’s class and have them get him ready – I walked out the front door with an estatic 9 year old boy with a forced smile on my face. I really wasn’t sure what I was doing, I just knew that I could not leave my son in a place that would do such a thing to him. I’m posting the letter I wrote right afterwards to the school so you can better understand (names and identifying info have been removed). For any American friends reading this, please bare in mind that our processes (read: lack of laws) make education very different than it is in your neck of the woods.
I am writing to follow up on the conversation that occurred this morning in your office with regard to my son C and the washroom. On November 13, 2007 I received a voicemail message from Ms. Blank where she simply left her name and asked me to call her. She and I were able to speak on the phone the following day where she abruptly informed me that “C will be using the Senior Kindergarten washroom from now on”. I was shocked and explained that C has long standing washroom issues and that his using the private washroom was agreed upon by his team at school when I brought him in at the end of August. I explained that perhaps Ms. BLANK wasn’t aware of all this and her response was that the “handicap” (her word, not mine) bathroom is “not for kids like C” and that is why he is no longer allowed to use that washroom. C had shared with me the evening before that he had “peed all over” the toilet and received a detention for it. I asked Ms. C if this was the reason for the change and she indicated this was part of it but that there were ongoing issues (which she didn’t expand on or explain) and that his using the SK bathroom would allow the EA to “have more control”. I told her, very clearly, that we were not in favour of this plan and that we did not want him using the SK bathroom.
Last week I mentioned to you PRINCIPAL that I wanted to set up a meeting with you to discuss Ms.BLANK’s phone call and the bathroom issue. At that time I indicated that I was not in a rush for the meeting as I had no reason to believe that, contrary to our wishes, C was using the SK bathroom. However, I did want to follow up with you with regard to my concerns for the tone of the conversation and the inappropriateness of someone not of C’s team calling me and changing plans that had been carefully devised with his unique needs in mind. I intended in that meeting to discuss these issues to in order to avoid future incidents. Following my conversation with you in the hall, however, C made a comment at home about having to use the “baby bathroom” at school and this led me to discover that he had, in fact, been made to use the SK bathroom. I attempted to call the school to speak with Mrs. M (who is his LSST and seemed the appropriate person to discuss this with) on Thursday and Friday of last week, however, she was away. This is why the discussion occurred today.
Forcing our nine year old son to use a washroom that is designed for four and five year olds and housed within the Kindergarten room is inappropriate and degrading. When I explained to you this morning that C views this move to the Senior Kindergarten bathroom as a
punishment you agreed and said “well, yes it is – he peed all over ______ (CHILD’s NAME REMOVED OUT OF RESPECT FOR HER PRIVACY) velcro straps that are used for her toileting”. I admit I was astonished that you would agree with the wording of PUNISHMENT and that you could not understand why I felt so strongly that C not be forced to use a toilet that is too small and is inappropriate. Punishing a child for actions directly related to his disability is in direct violation of his human rights. C himself has shared with us that he does not like to go to that bathroom as it is “for babies” and with his OCD issues around toileting this is having a detrimental effect on him. Forcing him to use the SK bathroom is a violation of his rights and an assault on his dignity and we cannot stand by and allow his self esteem to be so blatantly eroded. I removed him from school today as we cannot and will not stand by while he is actively punished for his disability.
As you are aware, we have been asking for a written toileting plan for several years now as concerns with C in the bathroom are long standing. All I wanted today was assurance for you that C would not be using the SK bathroom. I understand that a longer term plan will take some time and I am confident that you will include us, his parents, as part of that planning. This is why C and I came to the school on August 30, 2007 to try to problem solve what might be an appropriate bathroom for him to use that accommodates his unique toileting needs stemming from his TS, OCD, ADHD and learning disabilities.
It does seem that there has been break down in communication between Mrs. BLANK and members of C’s current school team. I understand that my insisting that C NOT use the SK bathrooms, effective immediately, was a surprise to you. This is unfortunate as I believe I was very clear with Mrs. BLANK during my conversation with her on November 14, 2007 that we were NOT in agreement with this plan and did not want this to occur.
We are confident that this matter will be addressed in a timely fashion so that C may return to school a fully integrated and accommodated 4th grader with his dignity and self worth intact.