Sidebar: Purple Boris and Other Dragons

Institutionalized negligence

For over 30 years, the Clark County School District has evaded fulfilling the expensive federal service mandates for IEP children — which the district accepted when accepting the accompanying federal dollars — through systematic negligence of those children’s needs. Widely understood as a significant part of CCSD’s (and many other districts’) business plans, it has been the subject of numerous federal lawsuits by Nevada parents against the district, successfully convicting the district of willing and knowing negligence. Those lawsuits, however, have evidently long been considered within the district as merely the cost of doing business. See  Nevada Journal’s Catch Me If You Can series.

The conscientious Treem substitute, however, did help produce one area of behavioral progress for the seven-year-old. Her meltdowns became milder — was due to help from the girl’s mother and a soft and plush dragon named “Boris” that the girl found reassuring.

“Yes, when Boris the Dragon was introduced to class,” recalls the substitute, “it would sometimes cut short or avoid her outbreaks.”

Boris was also available to the entire class, she says.

“Any of the kids that felt they just needed a little hug or time to themselves were welcome to go to his corner and sit with him. They also took turns with him during independent reading and would read to him.”

Still, she believes, “The school really made a mistake in not putting the autistic girl into a more-qualified teacher’s class, instead of [that of] a full-time sub.”

Bad faith at Treem

Like the substitute, the autistic girl’s mother has come to believe that while many people in the district are talented, conscientious and caring, a surprisingly large number of others operate in something close to bad faith.

In comments to Nevada Journal, the mother observed that the substitute teacher had received “no support at all” from Treem administrators, and — though lacking previous experience with children on the autism spectrum — had nevertheless been charged with both teaching and managing the severely autistic girl.

And after the conscientious substitute herself had quit, notes the mother, Treem administrators — surreptitiously, and without alerting parents — had divided the class into two sections and placed them in two other second-grade teachers’ already-full classrooms, bringing each of those classrooms to 150 percent of capacity.

Only when the mother’s seven-year-old would come home and say, “Oh, I was in Ms. So-and-so’s classroom,” did the mother learn who currently was her daughter’s teacher — and thus might, in an emergency, have to be contacted..

It was their experience with Treem the next year that finally led the family to pull all of their children from the school and place them instead in a new, nearby, charter school for the 2020-21 academic year.

For the mother, the final straw had been learning that her daughter’s third-grade teacher — who already chose not to communicate with the mother —was also content to ignore the now-eight-year-old’s need for learning.

The teacher, said the mother, would simply consult the now-eight-year-old, and if the girl would say, “I don’t want to do it,” the teacher would then tell her, ‘Okay, you don’t have to do it.’”

Indifferent to any obligation to teach the child, the teacher on several occasions, “had blatantly told me,” said the mother, “that she just doesn’t want to deal with” the possibility of facing heat from the little girl.

“So she doesn’t make her do anything,” the mother said.

Yet, more intelligent district teachers had already demonstrated that, handled the right way, the girl could be successfully directed into productive learning.

“My child is going into the fourth grade,” the concerned mother said this summer, “and has almost no basic understanding of multiplication, division, English, writing skills, how to form paragraphs —stuff that she should have the basic understanding of.”

And the third-grade teacher at Treem — as well as its administrators — had been content with that.

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