Some of you may remember last year when we created this petition to stop School District 41 from segregating our daughter with Down Syndrome from her typical peers. With the help of this petition and the thousands of supporters who signed and shared their own personal stories, we were able to get the district to overturn their decision in April 2015. They agreed to "let" our daughter attend her neighborhood school and be taught with her general education peers. The school year started off well, but we began to see a similar trend. Our daughter was not receiving the support she needed to succeed. She was basically being set up to fail. The curriculum was not being modified as it should be, leading to frustration and behavior issues. We found several experts to assist the school team, but the district refused to enlist anyone's help. At the end of 2015, we were finally able to get the school district to have an outside behavior therapy agency evaluate our daughter and the staff. She offered some great strategies for the staff to aid them in redirecting our daughter. She even offered to help the staff modify the curriculum for the next 4 weeks to see if that would help diminish the negative behaviors. The special education director refused her help. But the real surprise at this meeting occurred when the special education director stated that, despite Hiba making wonderful friends and reaching all her academic goals, the district intends on placing her back in a segregated self-contained classroom next year in middle school. She cited behavior concerns as their reason to separate Hiba from her peers.
Needless to say, we are not in agreement with this placement, and will go back to fighting for our daughter's legal rights to be taught in the least restrictive environment alongside her typical peers with proper accommodations and supports.
We need your help again to make this a reality for Hiba. If she is placed in a self-contained classroom with 3 other kids with various disabilities, we know she will just regress and all the progress she has made this year, the beautiful friendships she has made, and the academic accomplishments she has achieved will be lost. We cannot let that happen.
It is important to note that there is another child with Down Syndrome who has been fully included in this same school district, first in elementary school and now at the same middle school Hiba is going to next year. We don't understand why the district is including this child, but refuses to include our daughter. It just shows that our daughter is being discriminated against.
Please sign and share this petition with everyone you know so Hadley Middle School in Glen Ellyn knows it is not OK to discriminate against a child just because of her having Down Syndrome.
Below is the original petition we started last year:
"The first thing you might notice about our daughter Hiba is that she has Down syndrome. But to those who know her, Hiba is a beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate 9 year old. She loves math and her favorite show is “Doc McStuffins.” If you ask Hiba what she wants to be when she grows up, she will tell you "a doctor." This is not surprising considering how much she loves helping people. As her parents, we see a child with all the potential of any other child.
Unfortunately, her school system has kept Hiba segregated from other students and it has taken its toll on her education and spirit. All they seem to see is a child with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome does not define our daughter. We are asking Glen Ellyn School District 41 to allow Hiba her legal right to be fully integrated and allowed to learn alongside “typical” students at Churchill Elementary.
For the past 5 years, Hiba’s education has been spent in isolated, 1-on-1 settings. It has been painful to watch Hiba not be responsive to this education approach. She has become depressed, withdrawn, and as a result, hasn’t performed well in her studies. Hiba knows she is being treated differently and separated from the “normal” kids.
Districts across the US have diversified the classroom to include both children with disabilities and those considered “typical” for the past few decades. Education research and organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society endorse full inclusion in education settings. This approach would allow Hiba to be fully integrated into the general education classroom with her “typical” peers the entire school day. She would be learning the same things, but with a modified lesson plan, technology support, and 1:1 aide in the classroom. This plan would be developed by a well-known inclusion specialist. We know this is the best approach for Hiba.
Educational inclusion won’t just benefit Hiba. When children with disabilities are educated alongside their “typical” peers, research shows academic and social benefits for everyone. True acceptance of diversity begins in the school environment. It is then carried out in the home, workplace, and community.
Glen Ellyn School District 41 insists this is not the best approach for Hiba. They point to how she has behaved and performed in the isolated classroom. School officials can’t see these are symptoms of being segregated and exactly why Hiba belongs in a classroom with her "typical" peers. This is why we started the petition. We need you to help Hiba get in a classroom setting where she will thrive. Your voice can make all the difference.
Our dream is for Hiba to be afforded all the same opportunities as everyone else so she can achieve her full potential and be a kind, active member of society. Please sign and share our petition calling on Glen Ellyn School District 41 to allow Hiba to be fully included and allowed to learn alongside “typical” students at Churchill Elementary."