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One of Our Autism Students

I write this post to celebrate the retirement of my daughter’s elementary school principal. We are celebrating a long career that really went on for way too long, and should have ended some years ago, perhaps before it even began.

Why the effusive expression of adoration, you might wonder? Let me start with my best and favorite example. About a year ago, the following letter came home from school in Allison’s backpack.

Dear Families:

Today, one of our autism students pulled the fire alarm at our school. We had a needless evacuation of all of the students and staff, and the local fire department and police department responded. Fortunately, the disruption was brief.

We’re asking all of you as parents, to sit down and talk to your children about the consequences of a false alarm so that they understand the seriousness and importance of this.

We thank you for your continued cooperation in helping us make our school a safe environment for all of our students.

Sincerely,

Principal Doofus

The utter cluelessness of this letter exists on so many levels. The best part is the openly discriminatory attitude it takes toward “the autism students.” Can you imagine if he had said, “today, one our [Black, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian] students pulled the fire alarm . . . ,” or called out some other immutable characteristic as though it were germane to the discussion? I guess it might have been relevant if he had pointed out that this “autism” student was non-verbal (nope, not my daughter, but good guess) and therefore could not appreciate his act, but that this was a good opportunity to remind people about the importance of safety. Not to mention that as in loco parentis, it is the school’s fault that this child was not supervised properly and pulled a fire alarm.

But no, that’s not what his intent was in writing this note. His intent was to call out the “autism” students because they were the “others,” the interlopers the County forced into his school with their high-minded ideas about education for all and such.

This attitude pervaded Allison’s time at the school. A time that is fortunately, coming to an end. While I really thought Allison’s teachers were very kind, hard-working and tried very hard to help Allison, I really think the leader sets the tone, and Principal Doofus made it clear that were not welcome there.

Remember when James Jay Lee took hostages at the Discovery Communications building? That was back-to-school night, and Allison’s school is right near that building, so all of the back-to-school events were cancelled. When Principal Doofus rescheduled them, he “forgot” to include the autism program parents on the invitation, so we had no back-to-school night. When people pointed out the mistake, we received no apology, and no rescheduling so we could meet and talk to our children’s teachers.

This year, Principal Doofus’ staff “forgot” to include the names and contact information for all of the autism program’s families in the school directory. Did they re-print new directories when they realized the mistake? No, they did not. They simply sent the children home with a note, mentioning we weren’t in there and suggesting that if anyone would want to contact us (don’t know why you would), you get our contact information directly.

Another memorable event occurred the morning that Neil went to drop Allison and me off at the front door because we had an IEP meeting for her there, and that violated some rule for pulling up the semi-circular driveway that existed for a thirty-minute window. Neil had not noticed the sign. Principal Doofus was on the case, immediately screaming at us, as we pulled up. It was ridiculous. I got out of the car with Allison and he continued screaming at me – DON’T YOU SEE THE SIGN!! CAN’T YOU READ!! YOU CAN’T BE HERE.

I stopped dead in my tracks. Parents and children on their way in to the building were staring at us. The unwanted “autism student” and her family, breaking the rules because we were too stupid to understand how it NEEDS TO BE, were just exemplifying all the reasons why we should not be allowed to disrupt this wonderful school community. I had nothing else to lose, so I lost my temper with Principal Doofus – SIR, YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN AND GET OVER YOURSELF! TAKE AN ‘EFFING ‘LUDE! WHAT? THAT’S RIGHT, YOU HEARD ME, TAKE A *&%*(#* LUDE!!!

I walked right past him into the school. He charged in behind me to the front office, looking to continue the argument. Bad idea. That kind of behavior is not something someone in my situation easily forgives, or looks past.

So, thank you for your retirement, Principal Doofus. It could not have come a minute too soon you curmudgeonly, old, bigoted hag. Now take an ‘effin ‘lude, would you?

NB: The principal’s page on the website says it all.

Rosemary Hills ES – Principal.

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