FASD School Situation
© 2004 Dawn Swink
My teenage son Chris was having one of his bipolar/FAE days/weeks, so I told the school that he needed to be monitored closely and explained why. I was working as a parent advocate and was required to travel out of the city many days of the week. The day in question as one of the days where I was required to attend a meeting 100 miles away.
About 2 pm I received a phone call from the assistant principal at the school requesting that I come down immediately because they could not locate Chris. The last time that they had seen him (per attendance records) was at 10 am. I told the assistant principal that I wanted him to phone the sheriff and report Chris as missing and to stress the fact that he has a mental illness. He argued with me, but finally agreed to call.
I left the meeting I was in and headed back to the city. On the way back, I phoned Chris' dad and asked him to find a picture to take to the school in case the sheriff needed one to use in aiding him to find Chris. I then phoned the school and requested that they put me through to the assistant principal. They said that they could NOT because he was in with a student. I then demanded that they put me through because THEY, the school, HAD LOST MY SON. They patched me through immediately.
The assistant principal said that yes, the officer was there, but that he was not going to do anything because the sheriff's department did not deal with run-away kids from school. I demanded to speak with the officer.
The assistant principal started to argue with me, again stating that there was nothing that the officer would do. I again demanded to speak with the officer. Finally, he gave the officer the phone. I explained to the officer that Chris has a mental illness and FAE and could be in danger. I told the officer that Chris' father was on the way to the school with a picture of Chris and if by chance they had not located him by the time I arrived in an hour, then I would be calling the media to post his picture. The officer agreed to search for him.
(He would have from the beginning if the assistant principal would have fully explained the situation.) Fortunately, Chris came back to the school in time for the school bus. That evening, Chris told me of the events of his day. He had left campus with a girl, went to her house, (no one was home), engaged in sexual activities and played a game of Russian Roulette with a gun containing one bullet. Luckily, no one was hurt during the game. I, needless to say, was furious. I phoned the school the very next day and told them that Chris would NOT return until we had set up a meeting with the school and the administration for the district as he was allowed access to a gun DURING SCHOOL HOURS. I received a call that same afternoon stating that there was a meeting set for the next morning.
The meeting: The administrative representation for the district tried to be friendly, introducing everyone and making small talk with me. I told her that everyone at the table knew each other and I started firing questions at her. I gave a quick overview of why I had wanted the meeting, explaining the sexual activity that had taken place and asked her who would be responsible for paying child support to any child who was the product that occurred DURING SCHOOL HOURS, WHILE THE SCHOOL WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY SON. The administrator said that my question was a good one. I asked her what the good answer was. I then told her that SHE was very lucky that my son or any other middle school child was not harmed but the lone bullet in the gun and asked who I would have had to sue if anything had happened to Chris. She didn't respond, just asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted Chris in a self-contained classroom. She said that he didn't qualify for that service because his scores didn't reflect the need. I told her to retest him and make the scores work out for him to qualify. They agreed to retest him and low and behold, his scores did indeed reflect that need.
Chris was placed in a self-contained class with a wonderful teacher who monitored Chris' every move. Had I listened to the school district, Chris would never have received this service, which clearly he needed.
FAS Community Resource Center