The mother of a Seattle special needs student claims her child started summer school without proper equipment and facilities, jeopardizing her health and civil rights.
“I’m crushed, they don’t even care,” said Maryellen Donnelly, mother of 16-year-old Devin Cabbage. “I’m stunned at the illegalities and violation of her rights.”
Cabbage started summer school last Tuesday at Broadview-Thomson Elementary. She has an education plan specific to her disability, which has limited her speech and learning capabilities.
Donnelly’s nurses claim the classroom was ill-prepared for someone like Devin with particular needs.
In addition to concerns over teaching methods, there was not a proper place to change diapers.
“They changed students right there,” said Devin’s nurse Rachel Ledford. “When I was there, they moved the table initially and then they were changing kids on that table.”
The table, according to Ledford and Donnelly, was really two cafeteria tables pushed together. Some students, they contend, were changed in public.
“They are students with special needs, but those are basic needs for them that needs to be met," said Ledford.
Seattle Public Schools’ Director of Special Education Stacy McCrath-Smith acknowledged the delay, but said proper services were provided. The table and other equipment to help Cabbage arrived Thursday.
“Being as large of a system as we are, at times, things might be late or delayed, but we always make sure to maintain and assure students get their service," said McCrath-Smith.
In Cabbage’s case, even though she did not receive physical therapy on schedule, it was provided a day later.
“We would make sure to provide that service and make it up,” McCrath-Smith added.
The claims come as Seattle Public Schools works through a state-imposed mandate to fix its special education services. Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction gave the district until September 2014 to address deficiencies such as; the lack of a district-wide system to deliver special education services, ineffective oversight and an inability to provide consistent personnel.
Meanwhile, Donnelly is keeping her daughter home for the time being.
“Devin is a joyous, social, happy kid,” she said, “School is everything to her.”