Stop Exclusion of Special Needs Students On Field Trips
This petition made change with 1,085 supporters!
Sign to help require Bryten, and other mainstream Special needs students, to be included in Outdoor School, Field Trips, and other outdoor peer bonding/educational activities!
Bryten is a mainstream 6th grader who happens to use a wheelchair, She is medically fragile (severe Osteogenesis Imperfecta, brittle bone), but like other 6th graders, loves the outdoors and field trips. For the past two years, the Estacada School District, in Oregon, has excluded her from peer based outings (Field trips) because of lack of wheelchair access. This excludes her from critical age appropriate peer bonding exercises and activities as well as educational experiences that were later referenced in the classroom. These events were planned well in advance, knowing Bryten was a part of this district since KG, but the school does not require the student be included with her classmates, simply because she uses a wheelchair and is medically fragile (even with physicians clearance).
May 26-29, 2015, the entire group of 6th graders from Clackamas River Elementary (minus Bryten as she has been excluded) will head to Outdoor School for 4 days, 3 nights of peer bonding and science education. The school has known for 7 years that Bryten would be a part of this 6th grade year, but still failed to secure a wheelchair accessible Camp so that Bryten could be included in this week long educational experience. As a result, in spite of the efforts of the Outdoor School to include Bryten (yes the Camp itself found ways to make it possible for her to attend), the school district has decided to exclude her. The Camp itself has gone above and beyond to make things possible. The School District has determined that Bryten is not welcome to attend with her peers because they deemed her as too "medically fragile." Instead she will stay home that week with no educational opportunities, no peer interaction, no attending class, nothing. She will be at home while her friends spent 4 days and 3 nights learning Camp songs, playing games, building friendships, studying science and coastal wildlife, and more. This right of passage for 6th graders is being denied Bryten simply because she is medically fragile and the School District is refusing to include this child. The schools reason for exclusion is, "we cannot control the weather or terrain at the Oregon coast and cannot guarantee that Bryten would not be injured," The reality is, this same statement applies to every student attending Camp. I am not minimizing the school districts fear that Bryten may sustain an injury, but the District had the option of selecting a Camp that was accessible to reduce the risk, and chose not to select that option. Penalizing a child is wrong.
Yes, the school has offered a "separate but equal" unequal opportunity. They have offered the Mom and child (with 1 friend) one night hotel at the Oregon Coast and one day pass to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. While the family appreciates the kind gesture, this would not offer the educational, social, or peer bonding experience of outdoor school. The school has tried to pass this offer off as a "meeting the same social and educational goals,"
The issue is far greater than a one night hotel stay. The issue is the ongoing practice of exclusion. PLEASE sign this petition requiring the school STOP their practice of exclusion of children with disabilities. Include this child (and all other special needs students) in field trips, Outdoor School, and other outings that are educational Peer Bonding activities. The law already requires these students be included, and it is time we force these schools to obey the law! These kids are kids first! Lets include them!
Exclusion is bullying ,and Nation wide we have a zero tolerance for bullying in our schools. It's time we became the voice to STOP the abuse!
Please post comments below encouraging the District to reconsider their stance on exclusion!
After asking for solid reasons why my child was not allowed to attend ODS, I finally determined there was no clear "reason" that the school could express (the reason for no reply) other than fear, which I respect because many do fear for the safety of medically fragile children. It shows they do care, even if the actions to show they care may come across misguided.
As a result, I put together a proposal for a "compromise" that will allow Bryten to attend ODS while eliminating some of the fear the School was feeling. This compromise means we will stay off site at a Hotel, which the school is very comfortable with. It includes me providing someone who can transfer/lift/assist Bryten without question, eliminating the risk of a school staff person being injured attempting to providing the support. There are many other aspects of the proposal but the bottom line is that it would let Bryten participate in many of the ODS activities for 3 of the days the other students are at Camp, and as a result get that valued peer bonding time.
While there is still no final "yes", things are looking promising that we may be reaching a solution that will give Bryten the experience of a week at Camp with her 6th grade peers!
PLEASE keep the petition going! Your voices are being heard!
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