32 petitions

Update posted 23 hours ago

Petition to Department of Veterans Affairs

Help Veteran with Cancer Caused by Serving our Country Receive VA Benefits

Our family friend, Dan Parks, is a U.S. Navy veteran that fought throat cancer. He was discharged from the military, partially, to end his exposure to ionizing radiation during his work in a weapons and ammunition facility. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is denying his claim for life-saving health benefits – despite letters from the VA’s own doctors stating that Dan’s exposure likely caused his cancer. Dan needs your help to get the VA to change their decision before it’s too late. Dan was stationed at Naval Submarine Base New London, where he worked with ordinance. During his time at the base, he was also exposed to ionized radiation. Fast-forward a few decades later and now Dan is suffering from throat cancer. He now has to plug a hole in his throat to talk; a side effect of the cancer. Dan’s discharge paperwork from the Navy includes a stamp saying he was being discharged, in part, due to the radiation exposure. Multiple doctors with the VA have written letters saying there is a better than even chance that the cancer was caused by Dan’s radiation exposure during his time in the Navy. But the VA has denied his disability claim. The reason? They say there’s no proof he was exposed to radiation in the Navy. As Dan says, “If the VA won’t accept their own doctors, where does a veteran turn?” Dan’s been fighting for benefits for three years. He filed an appeal, but the VA won’t review it for another 18 months. Time is running out. He needs access to life-saving treatment before it’s too late. During this month where we honor our veterans, please sign this petition calling on the VA to accept their own doctors’ assessments and grant Dan Parks needed health benefits due to the radiation exposure he endured while serving our country.

Stacy Philllips
9,038 supporters
Update posted 4 days ago

Petition to Bob Steinburg, Bill Cook, Roy Cooper

"Kendall's Cameras" for NC Special Needs Classrooms

Kendall has autism and was physically and verbally abused, suspended, threatened with criminal prosecution and repeatedly mocked at school. Kendall now suffers from extreme anxiety and panic disorder.  She still suffers nightmares and meltdowns from the trauma she endured. Kendall's experience highlights the need for cameras in our special needs classrooms. Cameras will allow us to monitor over 200,000 special needs children and should be considered a protection for everyone. Kendall's story is not unique.  Some of our most vulnerable children are subjected to cruelties while they are at a place we should expect them to be safe. "Something is very wrong when our children are unsafe at school," said George Miller (D-CA).  We plan to meet with legislators to convince them that  "Kendall's Cameras" are something we need for our schools but we can't do this alone. Please watch our video above and sign this petition in support of not only Kendall but all of our children.  In 1998, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimated that 3 individuals with special needs die every week in US schools and Institutions due to abusive practices like restraint and seclusion. The Hartford Courant, which had requested the study, concluded that the actual toll could be three to ten times higher than estimated. Please check the update section for stories from other families to support our need for classroom cameras. 

Toni Kriss
2,845 supporters
Started 2 months ago

Petition to Dr. Wendy V. Falb, Teresa Weatherall Neal, Raynard Ross, Jen Schottke, Dr. Tony Baker, Kristian Grant, Maureen Slade, Rev. John Matias, Katherine Lewis, Dr. Jose Flores

Adopt Safeguards to Defend Special Education at GRPS

In 2017, there have been many changes and situations (listed below) which, in TOTAL, signal the downward slide of special education at Grand Rapids Public Schools (hereinafter, “GRPS”).  Therefore, these safeguards for a greater transparency, a townhall, and a greater voice for parents and community stakeholders are essential.  There is also a request that the Board of Education members visit the special needs schools and programs quarterly.   In 2017, there have been many changes which affect the quality of special education.  We are greatly concerned that these changes and results appear to signal the dismantling of special education in West Michigan’s largest public school, the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Special education appears to be reduced to its bare bones.    Denying ESY (extended school year or yearlong school) to the many students with severe autism who desperately need it.  The students at the center-based schools of Lincoln, Lincoln Developmental Center, and Pine Grove qualified for these schools based upon the severity of their disabilities.  Last summer, GRPS denied ESY to a significant portion of students with severe autism for the first time.  Many families who were denied did not have skilled and experienced advocates to represent them during IEP meetings with the schools throughout the school year.  Closing a transitional school (which serve students with special needs from age 18-26 years old).  GRPS closed Kent Vocational Options (KVO) without giving families and the community an opportunity to voice their concerns before making this major decision. Moreover, the ramifications include one school facility which cannot adequately accommodate students who have physical disabilities or challenges.    Transferring a special needs preschool program:  GRPS closed the Kenosha special needs preschool program at Van Auken and transferred and consolidated it with the Campus Early Childhood Center at Thomas Street (Kenosha Campus).   We are also very concerned that, in September 2017, GRPS is somehow short over 30 special education teachers.  One special needs school, KEC Oakleigh, does not have a principal and only 2 of the 9 teachers from last year have returned.  We are also concerned about GRPS’ ability to hire qualified special education teachers.    We are also concerned that less students now qualify for special education, even though the number of students medically diagnosed with a disability has increased.  Furthermore, the students who have a high functioning disability, such as ADHD, are often and unfortunately denied special education, an IEP or Section 504.  They too have a disability and require accommodations.    Students who are in the Moderately Cognitively Impaired and the Autism Spectrum Disorder programs at the GRPS high school are currently changing teachers and classrooms many weeks after the school year has begun.  Finding details (transparency) for this unusual change is a challenge.  Therefore, to prevent the dismantling of special education at GRPS, we ask that GRPS adopt the following safeguards and measures:  GRPS and its Board will zealously protect its students with disabilities. GRPS and its Board will maintain and improve special education services and programs for its students with disabilities.  *** Each GRPS Board Member should visit a classroom in a special education program or school quarterly.       GRPS and its Board will be fully transparent in informing its families and its community stakeholders of any proposal which may significantly cut, alter, or close any special education programs, services, or schools.  It should do so “before” it makes any decision for a major or significant change. GRPS and its Board will ensure that the Board, the families, and the community stakeholders fully understand the impact and ramifications of any proposal for a major change which affects special education services and programs, “before” any decision for a major or significant change is made  GRPS and its Board will ensure that the families and community stakeholders are fully engaged and are given the opportunity to voice their concerns and have their voice fully heard and their concerns fully considered, before any decisions for a major or significant change is made. *** GRPS and its Board will ensure a quarterly town hall meeting for students, parents, guardians, and community stakeholders (who are care about students with special needs and are concerned about the state of special education and its effect on the city of Grand Rapids and West Michigan).  This meeting should have an impartial moderator.  GRPS and its Board will make a commitment to zealously advocate for students with disabilities to ensure that their education improves their future, including but not exclusively:  the ability to work, to volunteer, and to become a productive member of society. We believe that the state of special education is an important community issue.  It affects both the families of students with disabilities and the reputation of Grand Rapids.  Since we desire that Grand Rapids be a welcoming, caring, and open-minded cosmopolitan city, we are vigilant in protecting students with disabilities and preventing the dismantling of special education.  Moreover, since GRPS is the largest public school in West Michigan, it is also the leader in either quality special education or the downward slide of special education in West Michigan.  Also, since GRPS is in the U.S. Secretary of Education’s backyard of West Michigan, what happens to special education in GRPS will set a precedence for the quality of special education throughout the United States.  [The mission of the A-TEAM: Disability & Community Coalition is: to advocate for the best interest of individuals with disabilities, to actively utilize our collective resources, to collaborate, and to empower individuals and their families to ensure that their education improves their present quality of life and their future.]

A-TEAM: Disability & Community Coalition
640 supporters