Reader: BOE Members' Apology is Meaningful But Not Enough

Mother of special education child at Keigwin Middle School feels concerns about the quad pond dangers are still not being heard.


To the Editor:

"I'm sorry."

These are words that I finally heard for the first time from Board of Education member Shelia Daniels at last night's meeting. The sound of those words almost made me to break down in tears. It was echoed again moments later by Cheryl McClellan. Words that I have been waiting for since the beginning of becoming vocal about the issues we faced in this school district.

Words that had I heard sooner, from anyone, I would not have called for the .

The apology came after I presented the BOE with photos and a plea.

I have consistently voiced my concerns about the — on two levels. One, that it was being closed, and two, that that transition of those kids into Integrated Classroom Model status was done without parental input.

Had I been asked, I would have offered my time, my expertise, my physical help and financial resources to help ensure a safe transition of our children into the district schools. For free, I would have told administrators that preschool-size furniture for fifth-graders would be ineffective. For free, I would have pointed out that a timeout room should not include a circuit breaker box. For free, I would have suggested field trips to transition the kids. I would have created a simple brochure describing the general needs of our kids for the district schools. For free, I would have donated and hung a coat rack at Keigwin.

When I recently asked , "why weren't the parents included in the decision to close DEAL and/or the transition of them into the community?" her response was, "we wouldn't include parents in facility decisions; that is an administration role."

Since that is the case; then I feel the administrators need to accept the responsibility of the failed transition.

I would have simply liked to have heard, "I'm sorry."

I AM SORRY: That's all.

I am not asking for anything more than a and his staff. Which brings me to why I write this story.

When I first saw the quad pond garden at Keigwin, I panicked. I know my child enough to know he would find away into that area. I was assured he would not because the doors are securely locked.

Imagine my surprise to receive a phone call and incident report that my son opened an unlocked door from the art room and entered this very area! He was reportedly running around this cement, unleveled cement area with statues and a filthy pond containing dead fish.

The staff hired to work with my son are trained and responsible to restrain him if needed. To be compelled to restrain a child acting out in this area is inconceiveable!

The quad has three walls of windows on multiple levels; open for the school population to view the pond. How inclusive is it to him to be viewed acting inappropriate by peers? How does it effect their perceptions of children with autism?

I contacted Ms. Slade and Ms. Senges. Ms. Senges quickly investigated. She reported that a janitor allegedly knew the lock was broken for some time but failed to report it to the administration.

Why would he? Keigwin never had a population of "ICM" kids. Shouldn't have he been briefed on what our kids need for safety?

My son is not allowed to go to art until the lock is fixed. Now he is being restricted from learning.

The administrators put a child into a building that continues to restrict his learning and jeopardizes his safety in a serious way. The safety of the staff are also jeopardized! Where is their union leadership? If their union and administration can't keep them safe — no wonder a instead of mandate reporting.

Ann Perzan and Laurie Slade, I have to ask you:

  • Would you want to be a paraprofessional responsible to restrain a child in this garden?
  • Would you want your child running around and climbing in it?
  • Will it take a serious accident for either of you to accept responsibility for not preparing the community to transition DEAL kids into ICM status?
  • What will it take for one of you to turn to us, our staff, and our son — and say, "I'm sorry"?

Jane Majewski, Middletown

tiffany March 15, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Wow, I must say....I agree. My best friend has a child that is autistic and when he was in keigwin a year ago the staff and administration threatened to have him locked in the psch ward at middlesex hospital if he ran out of the building 1 more time. Really?? I am so sorry that every student in the town is not "model" like and may need a little more compassion and attention than the "normal" student, but isn't that why you started your careers? To give children the best education that you could?? What happened to that? Hmmmm..


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