Brookwood High School: Remove Mrs. Pickens as Head of Clinic
Brookwood High School: Remove Mrs. Pickens as Head of Clinic
Medical neglect, harsh environments, ableism, and harshness towards a mentally disabled person. These are just a few of the things mentally disabled/ill students outside of the special education program at Brookwood High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, have faced when visiting the school's clinic, run by Melanie Pickens.
I was one of these students. For the 3 years I spent in Brookwood, I was afraid of visiting the clinic. This was hard to avoid, as I am physically disabled and needed a lot of medical assistance at the time. However, Melanie Pickens would not see to my needs and believed me to be faking my ailments. I was gaslit and verbally abused by her, a dangerous combination when one was abused in childhood and had clinical depression and autism. Mrs. Pickens also often "misplaced" my medical papers, or suggested I had never given them to her.
Other students affected will remain nameless for their safety, but I was not alone in this. One of my close friends, also mentally and severely physically disabled, but not enough to be fit into the special ed. program, and from an abusive household, confided in me that she was experiencing the same things. Mrs. Pickens refused to believe that her ailments were genuine, neglected her medical needs, verbally abused her, and more. Several other students reported the same to me.
To my knowledge, this was only occurring to mentally and physically disabled students outside of the special education program.
I reported Mrs. Pickens multiple times, once to Assistant Principal Williamson, but I was shot down and told that I was not allowed to keep other students anonymous for their safety. I was fearful in giving out names, as the first time I had reported Mrs. Pickens, staff had told her than I specifically had reported her and she became hostile towards me for it.
My final straw was when I went in for an episode of iron deficiency anemia, in which I didn't trust myself with walking. Instead of responding immediately and bringing a wheelchair (which the clinic owns several of), Mrs. Pickens took some time to respond and brought no wheelchair with her, having to borrow a wheeled office chair to bring me down to the clinic. She gaslit me on the way to the clinic, saying that my feelings of lightheadedness, nausea, and more were unreasonable and that I was clearly making it up. Once at the clinic, I had a mental breakdown (as I am autistic and was very, very overstimulated and upset) and an available school counselor had to be called to assist me until my own returned from a meeting. I sat for hours in the counseling office until my counselor showed up, consoling me. She told me that she had told Mrs. Pickens off multiple times for not taking the mentally disabled students' medical needs seriously and that we were not, in fact, faking our ailments. I was so distressed that day that my father had to come pick me up from school. Despite my fragile health, I never returned to the clinic afterward unless on a supply run for a teacher.
Melanie Pickens does not have medical experience. She has no degree in nursing and no doctorate. She does not have experience handling disabled students. This isn't to say that people who share these criteria are like her, but it is troubling when her job is to take care of students' medical needs.
I want justice for myself and others hurt by Mrs. Pickens's actions. I am an adult in college now, and I am still traumatized by what she said to me. I don't want other students like me to have to face the same thing. I am asking that Brookwood High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, look over Melanie Pickens and either remove her as Head of Clinic or otherwise take action against her.
According to Gwinnett County Public Schools's Student Complaint/Grievances Procedure, "If a student/parent has a complaint of discrimination or unfair treatment, he/she should report concerns to the principal ... in person, by telephone, or in writing of the incident(s) giving rise to the complaint. ... Students who believe that decisions made by staff members are discriminatory may present complaints to teachers, counselors, or school administrators, who shall make themselves available or schedule appointments to hear these complaints. Any student or parent who believes that conduct, either by an individual or by a group, creates a hostile environment that limits a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program is encouraged to notify the school principal." I did this, again. I reported Mrs. Pickens, but was not allowed to speak to the principal regarding my complaints.
"Every written complaint of discrimination or harassment will be investigated." My complaint of discrimination had not been written down by the faculty I spoke to, which it should have. It was never investigated.
Furthermore, on Student/Teacher Retaliation, "On all levels in the complaint process, reprisal or retaliation against a person or persons filing a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint or any person(s) participating in the investigation or resolution of the complaint is prohibited. Any employee or student who retaliates against such individual(s) as a result of participating in the complaint process shall be subject to disciplinary action." Mrs. Pickens's was informed of my reporting of her, and she actively became more hostile towards me for this. Beyond the school informing her that I had done as such, no further action was taken on the school's part. Her discrimination against me became worse- she retaliated. Nothing was done. I was silenced.
The Complaint/Grieveances Procedure does state that witnessing and affected students should be named, again however, due to Mrs. Pickens's increased hostility towards me after reporting her actions (and them giving her my name), I became fearful of giving the names of these students.
EDIT: Due to the anxiety this has caused me, I am keeping my name anonymous and would like to keep it that way.
If someone who can resolve this issue from Brookwood or GCPS wants to contact me, they can do so through my anonymous email: email@example.com