Monday, February 21, 2011

Step two in the process to solve the missing clothes case

Dear Dr. Tihen and Dr. Brunick

I try not to involve you for anything that is trivial. I hope you see this as serious as I do.

Dr. Tihen to get you up to speed I want you to be aware that last year on the third day of school my son, Steven (has Down syndrome) went missing on the Mariner Middle School campus. He apparently avoided his paraprofessional during a bathroom break and eloped into a vacant classroom. The search for him led to an unlocked gate on campus; 911 was called, Cape Coral police were on site, they had helicopter and search dogs added as well as all child missing teams called to site, I have been reported via the Cape Coral Child find team. I was not called, yes this is true. I was called after the fact when my son was on the bus home. I, at the time was shocked and relieved in one breath. I never made a fuss because it was all well and I was spared an afternoon of worry as well as having our afternoon of ESE bus drop offs totally interrupted. I did not file any complaint.

Last week the same son came home without the clothes I sent him to school in. He is a growing boy so the Levi's were from Christmas, fairly new. A shirt and a brand new zipper hooded sweat jacket. He came home in a pair of shorts and shirt that appeared to be out of a lost and found box and not his size. When I questioned him about his attire he shrugged his shoulders. He would not communicate to me where his clothes are. I searched his book bag for answers. His planner had no note in it. His book bag had nothing to inform me. I checked my answering machine and cell phone for missed calls or messages. I had no communication from any Mariner Middle school employee. I then called the school at about 5:15-5:25 pm and the woman who answered chucked after I explained my call concern and said it was the oddest thing..they found Steven in the gym and could not locate his clothes. She said he was uncooperative to explaining where his clothes were to them either. Steven has a 1:1 para professional and is to be supervised at all times on campus. She told me that "coach" would look for the clothes on Thursday and call me. I heard nothing Thursday and had no communication come home with Steven nor any of the missing clothes. Friday was a very busy day and went by without any communication ... No communication or no clothes came home with Steven.

Monday I called first thing in the morning requesting a meeting to talk to the Principle or a staff meeting and that Steven was not to be in any situation to take off his clothes at school meaning NO PE until some answers. I heard nothing from anyone all day. I posted on facebook at 3 pm my disgust and within the hour I got a call from Mrs. Rodgers. (ESE) .. she would not discuss anything with me other than a plan she has for Steven to change in a private bathroom in an IA classroom near the PE field. Still no explanation as to where staff was what happened why he was there.

I think it is important for you to know that the Department of Children and Families came to my home that Saturday claiming that your staff called them to say that Steven reported I punched him in the face, after the missing clothes incident. I have photos of him on my facebook on and before each day that week and I had company in my home and therapy each day of the week in my home THANK GOD! so the tiny scratch on the side of his face was explained and no indicators were there to say ANYONE punched him in the face. I was needless to say now more than before more concerned that a BULLY act took place and some boys took Steven's clothes and threatened to punch him in the face...makes perfect sense because he is not aware of where his clothes are. The clothes have never come home. The clinic made no call to me as to the scratch on Steven, no call at all with any health concerns yet they questioned him.

More importantly your staff have not set a meeting with me, given me an incident report or any explanation as to how my child disrobed, lost his clothes, found some one else's clothes, put them on and was found this way UNSUPERVISED with an IEP that clearly protects him from any of this to happen.

At this time I have lost all trust that my son is safe in the care of Mariner Middle School and need an alternative placement for the remainder of this year. My goal is to get him in the life skills at Ida backer High so an 8th grade class setting prior to that is my goal. Steven's IEP states IA today and this has been a total nightmare for me, I need to be assured he is not bullied, and is not in harms way. I feel the lack of communication has been broken beyond repair at Mariner Middle School.

CC: Nancy Harris, Steven's Education Advocate

Mary Beth Pringle