This is an open letter to the Minister of Education David Eggen, and to the Calgary Board of Education from a father of a special needs child.
This is not a letter focused on the unconstitutionality of school fees; or the ridiculousness and injustness of paying busing fees when a coding system makes my son a number, and I have no choice where to send him because his local school cannot support him, although those are pieces of a system not seeing a full child.
This is from a father grieving with his young son over the loss of a best bud. Think of when you were in elementary school and your partner in shenanigans and adventures? Now think back to what would happen if they died?
What happens in the CBE special needs world?
A form letter home to parents and then nothing. You as a parent are left to tell your child that their friend will no longer be in school, or coming over.
What I know in the typically developing stream of public schools a death of a classmate, a school shooting would result in deployment of grief counsellors to support staff and students in the process moving forward.
But, the special needs world it is crickets we are met with. Silence, not even personal phone calls to the actual classmates families (c’mon you are looking at classes of smaller than 14); and then staff who are suffering in an abnormality of a child not out living their parents, and expected to still do their jobs same day and moving forward.
Speak of trauma? When the response is: well death is a normal part of this community. Pardon my language but Bollocks. This is about kids, pure and simple, that are there one day, and gone the next never to come back, and adults and students left to process or not process.
So this is one father’s plea. Please quit reducing my child to not a full person, he hurts, he cries, he can use support. When any child (regardless of coding) passes away in the school system, please please please, bring the resources around that community to heal and move forward. So staff, students, and in case of financial stresses, parents–can access on site support to help them grieve and heal healthily.
Because silence just perpetuates silence and silence is pain, and yes silence is neglect, and silence can be abuse.
We are better than this.
One Father who has shed far to many tears with his son for such a short life time.