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Expert Q&A

As a teacher advocating for my own child, how do I keep from getting “black balled?”

I am at my wit’s end! This school has been a year from Hades! My son is in the 8th grade. He has always made A’s & B’s and has been in the AIG program for years. This year things are falling apart. He has ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, and OCD. He is on medications for these conditions. He has actually made F’s, and is in jeopardy of being kicked out of AIG, as well as being retained, and possibly sent to an alternative school.

The school that he attends is not very ADHD friendly. According to them, he is one of the most disruptive students that they have ever had. Their number one problem with him is that he is talkative and disruptive by constantly making comments during class. It is obvious that he is considered an “unwelcome challenge” and he realizes that. He is very unorganized and often fails to go to class without books, late homework, etc.

I am a special educator and go above and beyond to meet the needs of my students. I am very frustrated that I cannot get the same in return for my own child. They expect me to “fix” their problem. I have him on a daily schedule, created a daily behavior chart for them to sign, and I don’t know what more I can do. I have requested a 504 plan several times, or at least an evaluation, but they do not seem to think he needs it. I have had problems in the past with schools not being open to 504. I just think that they don’t want the accountability that comes along with it. What can I do? I don’t want to get black balled.

You are writing as both a teacher and a parent, with concern that advocating on behalf of your child may result in your being “black balled.” Both Section 504 and the ADA provide some protections against harassment or retaliation for advocating for legally protected rights. There are also laws in many states that provide such protections. However, the reality is that it is often difficult to prove that retaliation or harassment has occurred.

If an employee feels that they are being or may be subject to such retaliation or harassment, they should consider seeking consultation with an employment lawyer or contact the Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Education to get more information about their situation and the legal protections available to them.

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