By Noel Scott
I’m the mother of a biracial 5-year-old boy who has Down Syndrome. In less than two weeks, my beautiful boy should be starting kindergarten with all the other kids in LAUSD. Tonight, rather than writing this blog, I should be doing some back-to-school shopping or making a crafty chalkboard prop for the classic “First Day of School” photos to brighten our social media. But as we approach mid-August, LAUSD has yet to provide an appropriate school placement for my son. In fact, his Individualized Education Plan is blank for a school placement. He literally has no place to enroll in school. It is likely that he will spend the first several weeks of school at home, rather than with his peers in a classroom.
This is heartbreaking. But the fact is, I live in South Los Angeles, and until we tackle the systemic racism that has led to decades of severe neglect, it’s clear that LAUSD does not consider the vulnerable kids in my zip code a priority. What I have witnessed while touring LAUSD’s special education classrooms in South L.A. has shaken me to my core.
I should start by saying that I am accustomed to working with vulnerable populations under difficult conditions. For the past 15 years, I have worked as a Special Education teacher for incarcerated youth and adults in New York and Los Angeles. I have worked tirelessly to implement an inclusion model, which allows those with special needs to be educated alongside typical peers, and to support learners of all abilities in some of the most notorious jails. I have delivered special education services with dignity and advocated for every student as if they were family. I had no idea that I would eventually be a mom to a child with disabilities. I had no idea that I would have to fight this hard for him to receive an equitable education and the services he needs to access it.Read More