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When the School Calls … and Your Mom Heart Aches

Reflections from Joy Hogge during Women’s History Month …

Joy Hogge - Families as Allies
Joy Hogge, executive director of Families as Allies

I recently watched the movie Sunshine Cleaning. I was moved by it, but it’s an unusual movie and may not be to everyone’s liking. It centers around a mom who starts a business to clean up crime scenes and other places where people have died.

She’s motivated to do this after a meeting at her child’s school during which the principal tells her that her son needs both a special school and medication due to his behavior. She has no idea how to pay for a special school, but has recently learned that cleaning up scenes where people have died can pay a lot of money.

So cleaning up death scenes is what she does, and she faces down her fears and many obstacles along the way.  All I could think as I watched her was — Of course she was willing to start such a business. That’s what moms do – whatever it takes to help our children. Maybe even if it means cleaning up after dead people.

But, as a mom, I also thought about this as I watched- That mom was made to feel so desperate about her child, just as we all probably have, but nobody told her that her child was already protected and that she and her child had some rights in that situation. She was so busy trying to help him, that she didn’t have time to find that out on her own. Just like lots of moms. And dads.

We’ve recently been talking about the Procedural Safeguards and Child Find and Evaluation at Families as Allies.  All of those things can seem like impossible to understand gobbledygook that doesn’t have anything to do with anything in the real world.  But they have everything to do with everything.  One thing that they mean is that school districts are obligated to reach out to families and ask about the school district doing an evaluation when the school district suspects a child might have a disability that affects how the child behaves and learns.

If anyone at your child’s school is telling you that your child needs a psychiatric evaluation, medication or therapy due to their behavior at school, that school person seems to be letting you know that they suspect your child has a disability that affects learning.  You can share with the school person that you understand that Child Find means that the next step is the district asking for your permission to evaluate your child, not you taking your child somewhere.  You can also write a letter to your school district’s Child Find coordinator to request that your child be evaluated.

You are welcome to contact us if you would like to learn more about Child Find and how it can be used to help your child.  The Mississippi Parent Training and Information Center is another excellent resource.  We encourage you to check out our Child Find webinar and Evaluation webinar to learn more.

If you watch the movie, the school scene occurs at about the 11:45 mark.

[Photo: Sunshine Cleaning trailer courtesy Overture Films via Youtube]

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