Our little boy was born with Down Syndrome, which doesn’t bother us at all. He’s just a little normal dude to us, with a chromosome upgrade. It just makes him even more special to us. He’s our little super-hero … without the cape.
We do know that being born with a disability may be challenging for him. As any loving parent, it is therefore our duty to protect and assist him throughout his life, making sure he gets all the same opportunities as any other kid.
The first 5 years of his life went without any major hiccups, despite the usual ‘terrible three’ symptoms, the fights with his sister and other Dennis the Menace escapades.
Parents of kids with disabilities want, for obvious reasons, their kid to attend mainstream school. They will develop in confidence and get friends and even be part of a gang.
So, because our little dude turns six this year, it means he can start mainstream school. This is another proud moment in our life. Our little dude is off to school.
Our oldest daughter is attending an Educate Together School, which apparently is meant to be excellent and very inclusive, meaning that it doesn’t care about religion or disabilities. It will treat and educate kids equally … or so we thought.
The application / enrollment form for our son was submitted in January and we had the initial chats with the school about his needs.
It’s pretty obvious that he would need some level of support, called Special Needs Assistant (SNA), to help him during the school day, making sure that he does his duties, math, toilet stuff, lunch, etc. In order to get an SNA, we needed to submit a few documents about his disability to then get him enrolled.
Keyword here. He had to be enrolled in a school before the Principal can apply for the SNA.
We submitted the necessary assessment reports and waited for the school to contact us.
The contact happened after a recent visit to the US, where we met the principal and the Chairperson from the Board of Management. Let me just say, it didn’t go as we expected.
Both the Principal and the Chairperson were reluctant to enroll our son due to his disability, using the excuse that he wouldn’t get an SNA – according to the school. Please note, the principal can only apply for a SNA after he has been offered a placement! How did they know he would not get an SNA?
Secondly, they didn’t like or accept the reports from the local health-board (HSE) psychologist which clearly stated that our son should go to a mainstream school. The Principal didn’t think the assessment reports were completed. However, if the assessment reports were reformulated, then she would give our son a place in the school.
Based on the Principal’s suggestion, the assessment reports were re-written and the psychologist wrote 3 letters to re-iterate her views and support that he should go to mainstream school – unfortunately the Board and Principal back-tracked on their promise!!
As you might understand, we were not impressed with this attitude, and I might have said a few honest things to the Principal and Chairperson, as any parent would’ve done. Next thing you know, I was called a bully! Heck, I don’t give a crap, as long as I get my son what he’s entitled to. We even pleaded and begged to the Principal to at least send the SNA application form to see what he would be offered by the Department of Education.
The next few weeks were spent arguing with the school, getting letters from the healthboard and contacting various support organisations.
Finally, we received a letter from the school and hoped it would be good news. But no, the school denied our son a place in the school, because of his disability.
I’ll keep the next paragraph short, mainly to reduce the amount of aggression and abuse I might dish out, and also because I want the message to be clear.
According to the Irish legislation, all kids with disabilities are entitled to an education and to attend mainstream school. The health-board has issued these reports for other kids and they have been awarded a place in other schools. Read the ESPN
In short (and good Irish), the school is a showering bunch of @£$%!*^$%. There, I said it. Read the EPSEN Act you numbskulls!
We can only see this as a direct discrimination of our son, because of his disability.
In good Tarantino style, the school has no idea who they’ve pissed off. My wife, an excellent human rights activist and revolutionary, decided to take up the fight.
Again, I need to make it clear, we did indicate to the school that we would fight tooth and nail for an SNA, as long as they enrolled him. This should have triggered something in their miniature brains, saying that we support our son fully and that we will fight for his rights.
“One couldn’t but empathise with the anguish and the energy that parents with a child with special needs display. Any mother, any father would go through the wall for their child and I understand that” – Ruairi Quinn, Minister of Education
In good grass-root style, we contacted a long list of people, so they could see how the school is discriminating against our son. We were sitting in our house in the evenings, plotting our revenge and style of attack. This was suburban combat. Fight for your rights. This list includes:
- The Equality Authority
- Minister of Health
- Minister of Education
- Minister of Children
- Ombudsman for Children
- Primetime TV (RTE)
- Frontline TV (RTE)
- The Principal Association
- Special Needs Parents Association
- The major Irish newspapers
- The blogger community
- The Twitter community
What did we give feed these wolves of political and media powers?
Well, we gave them the evidence and our story.
If you want to support our cause or help us in our fight against the evil tyrants, then contact us and we’ll happily share the evidence with you too. We only ask you to communicate this further and get the necessary people involved.
The school needs to be brought to justice and pay the ultimate price of unemployment!
Is Feidir Linn!
Feel the wrath of angry parents. The school has messed with the wrong parents.
We cannot get heard without helping each other and spreading the word. It is important for the future of our kids, abled or disabled kids alike. The ministers need to be made aware of these problems and enforce EPSEN on all schools within the Irish school system.
Name 'n shame those schools that don't comply with Irish Law! Don't accept a no and don't let people discriminate against children
One thing that I need to point out. Yes, we are unfortunately leaving the country, and the main driver for this is because our son didn’t get accepted in mainstream school, and we don’t think he has much of a future in Ireland.
This saddens us a lot. We have over the years fallen in love with Ireland and have made loads of friends here. This is our home. We have all our stuff here and our kids were born in Ireland – they are Irish. But, we have to do what’s best for our family, i.e. our kids.
For the record, Judgebrix would never put his tail between his legs and leg it, but in this case, family priorities takes over.