Concerned Parent Group of Colchester

Parent Statement #3

I would like this entered into the minutes please.
My name is Diane Freeman.
I live at 100 Evergreen Terrace in Colchester. My son was a student in the
Colchester Public Schools from Kindergarten through Grade 7. From Kindergarten
through 4th grade, he struggled with all aspects of learning. Year after year
my requests for testing and evaluations were refused including a written
request for a PPT.
During the second week of Fourth Grade, his teacher called me to report that he could not do much of the class work including reading anywhere near grade level. I discussed the struggles I had had over the years and she responded "you're going to have to fight
for help, we're not supposed to encourage you to seek services". The rest
of this year was horrendous. My happy, energetic, and well-behaved child came
home from school almost every day in tears. He lost all interest and ambition
in school. My relationship with him became strained because nothing I did
seemed to help. I was angry and losing hope. After 4 years of trying to get
help from the Colchester schools, I took him for an evaluation at Yale Child
Study Center. The results were significant-he was diagnosed with a learning
disability that affects his ability to read and comprehend. His evaluators were
shocked that he was reading at an early First Grade level toward the end of his
Fourth Grade year.
After the school reviewed the evaluation, then conducted an evaluation of their own, a PPT was held and the Director of Pupil Services attended and ran the meeting. She opened the PPT by stating to school personnel "how did this get by us?". No one
responded. I responded by stating that I had tried for years to get help
through the system including my written request for a PPT being ignored and
phone calls never being returned. I stated that I was now aware that refusing a
written request for a PPT violated our rights but my interest was to get help
for my son. The Director responded "Mrs. Freeman, you could get a lawyer, but
that would only interfere with your child getting help". I chose to ignore
the implications of her statement. I was also told that my son would do well in
a "career" as a valet parking cars. At the end of 4th Grade, he was given services in reading and math.

Throughout Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Grade every time he showed the smallest amount of progress, I received an updated IEP in the mail decreasing services.
It became apparent that by high school my son would be receiving minimal, if any, services. His reading continued to be far below grade level and every aspect of learning was hard for him because of this. I worried about him as he moved toward high school, and how being disconnected from learning would affect the choices he made. I made
the decision to withdraw my son from the Colchester school system because the
struggle to get him help had gone on too long and there seemed to be no hope
that the school would do what they are supposed to do-educate ALL children.
The cost of private school was high.  I had to take a second
job in order to be able to pay the tuition. Because the person in charge of
Special Education services refused to help my son in a way that was appropriate
and in line with education laws, and because the district has allowed the
Special Education Department to operate in a fraudulent and neglectful manner, I
paid $50,000 per year for 5 years to get my son the education he should have
received in Colchester Public Schools. He graduated with a 3.65 GPA, earned awards
for academic achievement, and was accepted at six of the seven colleges he
applied to.
If my son had received appropriate diagnostic testing and interventions in Colchester schools, his successes would have been possible without the years of failures, frustration and the enormous cost to my family. I don't regret the decision to remove him from
Colchester schools. What I do regret is my ignorance of the help that was
denied to my child and my complacency with how the system worked. Knowing that
this continues to occur with numerous families has made me believe that the
residents of Colchester need to stand up and say that offering the Director a
contract renewal after retirement is unethical and makes every board member who
agrees to it a part of the educational neglect of Colchester’s Special needs
students who are entitled to a FREE and appropriate education.

In the past I have supported the town budget as well as the Board’s position on issues. If the practices of the Special Education department are allowed to continue, this may
no longer be the case.

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