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Kaylee’s Journey: Challenges for Kids with Special Needs

This piece was submitted to our 100K STORIES PROJECT by a concerned mom, Tonea Parker.

My name is Tonea Parker, a mother of a beautiful  daughter with Special Needs! Recently my story was picked up by WSBTV in Atlanta, Georgia. My sixth-grade daughter

My sixth-grade daughter attended  a field trip at Sandy Springs Charter Middle  School and was not fed all day! The meals were sponsored by Chick-fil-a who didn’t supply meals for kids with allergies. Due to my sixth grader’s medical challenges and dietary  restrictions, her meals are cooked daily and sent to school. The lead teacher from my daughter’s school refused to make any attempts  to heat her meal, leaving my daughter unfed all day.

Afterwards, my child returned to school not feeling well and starved. Once she returned to school she told her Social Studies teacher she wasn’t fed – the teacher only apologized but did not get her anything to eat. There was a second opportunity to help my child and he simply ignored  it.

I am a strong  advocate  for my child and to make sure there were no excuses,  I also sent an email to the school.

We have encountered  so many failures and ADA violations  at this school. The school has refused to supply sensory items and equipment  for my child and they receive federal  funds to do so. My daughter should receive 45 minutes of  Occupational Therapy weekly, and she only gets observed  in her classroom setting. My daughter has been put in a cooking class (Home Ec.), without any safety  precautions or dialogue to the teacher of her medical  challenges. During  the class, my child was neglected and unable to participate. The risk factor of cross  contamination is increasingly  high as well as discrimination towards my daughter.

In Social Studies class assignments, including five hazardous items with gluten and dye based products, were involved. I emailed the teacher who stated no one ever made him aware of an IEP or of medical challenges for my child. This was exactly what the other teacher stated regarding the Home Ec class. The list of issues  are ongoing and disturbing, especially since school principals and staff are paid to teach and care for our children.

I sent several e-mails, calls to higher authorities and requested mediation. Due to the lack of concern from the school staff I continued  to seek help by sending documents to the Mayor’s Office, the local Civil Rights office in Georgia, and I filed a complaint with the State Department. I also contacted Parent 2 Parent of Georgia on several occasions for assistance. I was advised of the rights I have as a parent and steps to take for resolution.

My daughter’s school principal said they were unaware that these issues were happening and apologized but never showed any urgency or sought resolution. I feel it is very disturbing that schools are so comfortable with the lack of safety, poor leadership, and injustices towards our children. There is a sense of  entitlement because they know they won’t beheld accountable. It appears to be only about a paycheck and the schools’ needs not about what our kids need.

We have to wake up and realize the teachers of today are not equivalent to teachers of the past! As parents we are required to provide for and care for our children without any payment or rewards. The schools and staff must be held accountable for what they provide or do not provide for our kids. After all, they get paid to do their jobs, they get every holiday off, and they enjoy summer breaks with a job to return to!


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