What to do when your chosen school rejects entrance to their school due your child’s special needs?
Posted by: | on June 9, 2012
One day a close friend of mine asked me if I know any special school that caters for the blind and mute. I referred them to the Center of the Blind in Cubao where some of my co-graduate students spent their practicum there. But apparently, the child is not really mute but instead he has autism. For the sake of protecting the child’s identity, I will mention only details that will help the readers picture his condition. The child being male, almost 16 years old recently graduated from elementary in a public school. He enrolled in another public school because his former school offers elementary only. However, on the second day of class according to my friend the school rejected to continue providing education to the child. Instead they offered to give a non-graded education meaning that the child will go to school but he will not be given a grade to allow him to pass his level. The guardians of the child did not approve of this and that is why they are now desperate to look for another school. To add more pressure to the rejection, it is already the start of the school year and most public schools are booked.
I have been looking for news for K to 12 and its status on its first day of implementation and all I see in the online news is the same perennial problem that has plagued the Philippine education system – lack of books, school supplies, teachers, and classrooms. Multiple shifts in classes to accommodate the ever-increasing number of students enrolling every year. So how do you suppose the guardians of these child feels? Alone? Betrayed? Rejected?
Possible? I am a mere bystander and 3rd party receiver of information and I feel furious about this story! What more for the guardians of this child?
But how about the child? What do you think does he feel? According to my source, the child has high-functioning autism. What does that mean? About.com describes it as: “High functioning autism is not an official diagnostic term, though it may be used as such. It tends to describe people who have many or all of the symptoms of autism but did not develop language typically. It’s a helpful diagnosis that can help guide appropriate treatment and school placement. ” There are times that people with Asperger’s syndrome are described to have high-functioning autism but some argue that both conditions are different.
But these are just jargons. The important question here is: Did the school consider the emotional and psychological impact of rejecting entrance to the child at the beginning of the school year? The child is an incoming freshman. He is most probably excited to go to high school, meet new friends, find a crush, be a high school teenager. But now his guardians are clamoring and asking help everywhere to help them find a public school that will accept their child.
Yes I don’t have the full story yet and it is possible I may never will but it does not mean there is nothing I can do. Special Education Philippines believes that somebody should take responsibility for this situation and its not the child who should suffer from the adults who did not do their job properly. I suggested three options to my friend that may help them.
1. Fight for their right to education. – I asked my friend if it can be assured that the child graduated from elementary and he confirmed it. Thus by law and following the basic rights of children, this child should not be denied education. If he passed elementary then that means he can apply for high school. According also to my friend, the guardians enrolled the child early. However, because the school received late results from the Philippine Mental Health they decided to ask the guardians to move the child to another school. Again, I think the school has the option to do this but they should have done it early on and not on the second day of the school year!
2. Because of the late advise of the currently enrolled school, I suggested that maybe the school can accommodate the child for the first year with an advise to move to another school on the second year. But the education they will provide should be graded. Of course, this does not mean that the school is pressured to pass the child but he should also be given an opportunity to be evaluated the same as his peers. After the first year, the school can also give an endorsement letter to the special school the child can transfer to. My point here is that schools should be part of the parent’s support system. It is already hard to be a guardian of a child with special needs and most parents are not trained or educated to handle their child’s special needs. For advise and information on which school they can transfer, the school should give that customer support because they know their network better than the parents.
3. And if the high school will not cooperate at all then maybe they can seek assistance from the school where the child graduated. Hopefully they can ask for an endorsement letter to a school they can refer the child . The elementary school where the child graduated knows the child’s history and can suggest the options for the child’s placement. Also, since this is also a public school, it will have its network of schools they can refer the child to.
It cannot be discounted that this situation will cause much stress to the parent, the child and even the schools concerned. But it does not mean we just let it go and ask the child to stop learning because it is inconvenient and messy to file all these paperwork. That is the easy way out and once the people around the child do that then it might look like they have given up hope for the child. I do wish I can meet this child one day. I still think I am writing blindly here because it is not always that I react on issues like these. But these are the issues that pinch my nerve as a parent of a child with special needs and as a SPED teacher. This is the second similar story I’ve heard about schools rejecting entrance to a child because of his or her special needs. Special Education Philippines’ next post will be the letter sent to the Special Education Philippines’ fan page about another child and parents who experienced a similar situation. Hopefully these series of posts will equip us better as teachers, parents, or people with special needs on how to handle schools that reject entrance to children with special needs.