Parents find common cause over children’s special needs

  • Christin Glodek, right, speaks during a meeting of parents voicing their experiences with Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Friday, May 5, at Mill 180 Park in Easthampton. Cameron Murrell and Sonia Lindop, listen to her concerns.

Published: 5/26/2017 10:51:54 PM

HADLEY — As the parents of two children at PVCICS, Christin Glodek and her husband were heavily involved at the school: They spoke in front of the state’s education board when its charter was up for review and served as room parents. Glodek was also co-chair of the family association.

However, their experience at the school soured when they began to experience issues related to the needs of their kids, whom Glodek euphemistically calls “wiggly children.” 

When a teacher didn’t feel like accommodating their children, Glodek says, they would be punished for minor infractions — saying something out loud, spending too much time in the bathroom, not sitting in the chair properly.

Eventually, after watching her children get held out of recess and gym class, or get sent to the office where things would escalate, Glodek had her kids tested at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. There, they received a diagnosis of ADHD and were given recommendations for in-class accommodations. 

“We instituted a 504 plan to protect them from indiscriminate punishment,” she said. “Instead, the school seemed to use the 504 plan to direct their punishments. They totally ignored the strategies that we took so much time to develop.”

After pulling one of her children out of the school, Glodek began having conversations with other parents who experienced the same problems, and decided to put together a survey of families who had removed one or more children from the school. 

“It’s a very simple analysis — it wasn’t meant to be scientifically rigorous,” she said. “It was meant to be descriptive in a way for the school to have some meaningful understanding at what was happening.”

The report seems to tell the tale of two vastly different experiences at the Chinese immersion school: one for children who don’t require much help from the school, and another for children who need special services.

In total, 13 families filled out the exit survey, 11 of whom said the handling of their child’s accommodations was directly related to their removing them from the school. 

Charter school administrators say the report misrepresents their school, and deny that any student was denied needed services, inappropriately disciplined for behaviors related to their disabilities or forced out. 

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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