This is Isabelle.
She is 6 years old. She loves music, stuffed animals, playing with her friends, and dogs. She also has Down syndrome. For the past year, she has been in what is called a “general education preschool.” This means she has been with “typical” kids everyday who do not have disabilities like she does. This means she is not segregated into a “special ed” classroom. To the other kids in the classroom, she is just “Izzie.” She is their friend. Someday she will be their neighbor. Maybe their employee. And because they will have grown up with disability being a part of the normal human experience rather than something scary that should be hidden away in a segregated classroom, all of the kids will grow up to be kinder and more tolerant.
But not if the school district gets their way.
This fall she is supposed to start kindergarten. But the school district we live in doesn’t want Isabelle to go to a general education classroom with her friends. They want to put her in a segregated environment for “people like her.”
We, Isabelle’s family, believe that this type of segregation is wrong and harmful. And it’s not just us… Study after study shows that inclusive classrooms that have both kids with differences and “typical” kids in them actually do better socially and academically than segregated ones. But the school district has a structure that is built upon old data, old ideas, and money that supports segregation.
As Isabelle’s parents, we’ve taken the fight as far as we can by ourselves. Now we are being forced to hire an advocate to help us protect Isabelle’s right to a free and public education in the least restrictive environment.
Yes, this battle is about our child. But it is also an opportunity to set a precedent in the school district for other families who have been and will continue to be bullied and harmed by the policies in place that keep kids with disabilities shamefully hidden away. We are asking for your help to cover the costs of this expensive battle with the school district that will force them to actually follow federal laws that are designed to protect basic civil rights. Your donations will cover the retainer required by our advocate to take our case in front of the school district and other policy makers.
Any money that is not used in this battle will be donated to organizations that promote equity for those with disabilities.
This is a huge fight we are taking on. We hope you will join us.
Randy Scott, Izzie’s dada.