Thursday, August 27, 2009

Matthew has some difficult moments at school

As the father of a young son I am very protective of him especially due to his special needs and his epilepsy. My biggest wish for him is to grow and experience all that kids his age experience. I don't want him to be limited in his opportunities. I want him to be challenged and to find things that interest him and enable him to make friends. Matthew attends public school at Summit Lane Elementary school in Levittown, New York and he is in a self contained classroom setting with several teachers and assistants. His class size is small and he is with all boys in his classroom at the present time. He is mainstreamed in his art and music class and he enjoys that because there are girls in those classes.

Matthew gets individualized attention and has teachers who take an interest in his development. His 4th grade teacher, Mrs Kalb was very helpful and took a sincere interest in his learning abilities and kept us informed with his progress in the classroom and wrote us everyday. There were times when Matthew had his struggles and more than a few times I had to come to pick him up at the school for discipline problems. Matthew had wonderful teachers at Summit Lane and he had the same teacher, Mrs McKenna for the 1st grade thru the third grade who was very devoted to him and helped him tremendously.
She had a lot of patience and she always made sure Matthew was doing his best. He had his moments but overall he did well in her classroom.

Matthew had a school psychologist, Dr. Sean Haggerty that he would meet with on occassion to talk and speak his feelings to. He would always be available at the school board of education meetings and would always be there to help us place him in the appropriate program.

Our experiences at Summit Lane Elementary school overall were good and we knew the staff were there to support and help Matthew but it seemed he had some behavioral problems that they could not manage so they decided he might benefit from another school that is also in Levittown which is Salk Middle School where he will start 5th grade.

My real disheartening experience at Summit Lane Elementary school among the suspensions was a telephone conversation I had with Dr. Sally Evans who was upset about a particular instance where Matthew did something inappropriate in the school by spitting at another student for no reason. I was very upset with Matthew and I told him that this behavior is totally unacceptable and I punished him for several days as a result. In my conversation with Ms. Evans I appologised and told her that I spoke to Matthew about it and indicated to her that we do not condone this behavior and made that clear to him. As I appologised she said that Matthew can't help what he does and sometimes reacts and she mentioned as I felt her patience wearing thin that he would be permanently suspended from Summit Lane and she had the audacity to say that our son was hopeless. I was devastated when I heard her speak about my son this way and shocked as well as I did not know what else to say. Immediately I lost all respect for her and felt Matthew does not belong in that school if that is how the principal feels. I feel she should not be a principal if she feels that way about autistic and special needs children. She opened my eye to how ignorant some of our school administrators are and I would never want to see her again after that conversation. I feel she is unprofessional and very spiteful. My son needs a school environment that encourages self esteem and positive development. Her answer to my son's needs was to suspend him and criticize him. She is very ignorant and I am glad Matthew is out of her school.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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