We are sorry that it has taken us this long to publish the second part of our special education column but we had a hard time deciding which stories to publish. We found many of the stories that people shared with us to be disturbing and we did our best to pick the best stories that were representative of the majority of the stories that were reported to us by both staff members and parents who are involved with special education institutions.
Again, as stated in the first column our opinion is not reflected in any of the stories published in this column, but I must say that we hope that we as a society — especially in Minnesota — will examine our special education system and determine if it’s accomplishing its intended purpose. We learned while conducting this investigation that we have no idea what the purpose is.
I must say that out of all the investigations that we have done, this one caused the most emotional stress, as you will see when you read these stories:
Rodney and Jane who have a kid who started off as a mid-school aged child and now is in high school enrolled in a special education program said, “Our son had some behavior issues in his regular school so we got talked into having him sent to special ed, but we were told that once he got his stuff together that he would be allowed to return to his normal school. But nothing could have been farther from the truth.
“Once he got to the program, some lady said that he should be taking ADD [Attention deficit disorder] meds and what not, so we agreed, not knowing what hell would soon come our way. Once he started taking the pills they kept telling us that he needed this new service and that new service. All they were doing was trying to get money from him being there.
“The meds caused him to gain weight and [he] felt nasty all the time so he stopped taking them and he was doing fine until they found out that he stopped taking them. Once they found out that he stopped taking them they started saying he was violent in class and that he was dangerous.
“After trumping up some changes on him, a judge ordered that he take the ADD meds and he got really sick again so he stopped taking them. Once they found out that he stopped taking them again they trumped up some charges on him so now he sits in Redwing because he won’t take their meds.
“He is not stupid but these people make him feel that way and all they want to do is justify their jobs so they put kids through these programs that don’t need to be there. The worse part about the entire process is that you can’t appeal a decision and have your kid removed from special ed.
“We tried going to different districts but they just [kept] telling us that if they took us that our son would still be labeled special ed. Our kid will never be the same because of these people. They have damaged him for his entire life. I would tell parents that they should not let their kids get labeled special ed no matter what, because all these people do is lie to get money.”
Ella who has worked in special education for over eight years said, “People always feel sorry for these kids but let me tell you something. The majority of these kids are monsters. Their parents create them and they expect us to fix them, and that’s not going to happen.
“A kid stole my phone from my purse a few years ago and when I confronted [him or her] about it, spit in my face. And when I went to grab [the child he/she] struck me in the head with the ball of a trailer hitch that [he or she] had wrapped in a sock. After being hit and watching the blood dip from my head, I pushed the monster in to the wall. I had suffered a mild concussion.
“I thought the monster would be charged with trying to kill me, but of course that didn’t happen. I was charged with assaulting a minor. Can you believe that? They were not even injured! I didn’t get convicted but the message was sent that monsters are allowed to assault staff at will.”
The above stories are reflective of what we heard from those who work and those who are consumers of special education services. I would like to thank all of those who shared their stories with us and I promise that we will get your stories out. We spend millions of dollars a year on special education and we are left wondering if it’s worth it.
Booker T Hodges welcomes reader responses to [email protected].