Update 3: You know you spend too much time on CM when...
I have disabilities that make it difficult to walk very far or for very long. I use my scooter pretty much wherever we go now.
Today my DD has a field trip to the local firehouse a couple of blocks from school. When they sent home the permission slips I had indicated that I was interested in being a chaperone. For the last 2 years since we moved here, we take them treats for major holidays and at other random times of the year. I thought it would be a fun reason to go again. Because, FIREFIGHTERS!
I was told I couldn't chaperone the trip because I can not walk there while holding hands with the kids.
So far, I see no problem.
Then I ask if I can just accompany them.
I am told no. Because I can't walk well.
I will save my reaction and how I dealt with it for after I get to read some replies of how other moms would have handled it and what other's thoughts are about allowing non-chaperoning parents to attend field trips. I don't want to skew my results. I have a feeling I know what kind of answers I will get. LOL
Update 10:30 am: I am at the firehouse. I will update how it happened when I get back home. It is awesome and I don't have the time here to type it all out on my phone. :-)
Update 2: I have my update all typed up. I'm just proofing it before I post. Please bear with me!
Update 3: 12:35 PM
Sometimes small victories can make a huge difference in someone's life.
Okay, I just walked in the door. I only got to page 7 of the replies before I left, so after I'm finished with my update I will return to the replies to address individual questions.
There is no policy forbidding non-chaperoning parents to attend field trips. It is actually strongly encouraged by the faculty.
This is the first field trip I have tried to attend. With previous trips, I have felt it would be a detriment to the kids for me to be there. I am not well enough for all day field trips. Therefore, I only choose the field trips I know I am physically capable of attending.
Both my husband and myself have signed medical waivers releasing the school of any responsibility for any injuries we may sustain while participating in school activities. We had to do that at the beginning of the school year to volunteer for things. Liability was not an issue in this case.
I am very familiar with the layout of this particular firehouse. My family drops goodies off to those wonderful firefighters several times a year as a thank you for everything they do to keep our community safe. Those guys think my scooter is awesomesauce! They always welcome me with open arms and my DH has become good friends with the supervising captain.
After the first time I was told I could not attend the field trip, I heard that another able-bodied parent was being allowed to go as a non-chaperone.
My disabilities include Lupus, MS, fibro, chemo induced neuropathy and brain damage (which means I can't feel my hands and feet and I can't remember shit without post it notes, my notepad and alarms on my iPhone), psoriatic arthritis, and something called Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia which is a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma acquired by massive amounts of radiation treatment for cervical and breast cancer. I do not let my illness keep me from participating in school functions and events. I only pass on days I can not make it down the stairs at home.
To the mom who snarked at me, telling me to get a life outside of my child. I do have a life outside of my child. I have many interests that do not involve my child at all. I had a successful career as a Director of Nursing until I got sick 4 years ago. My DD was born 15 years after I lost a son at 22 weeks who only lived for 45 minutes after birth in my arms. After Caleb died, I lost three more pregnancies and went through cervical cancer. I was told I would never be able to carry or conceive a child after my radiation treatments for cervical cancer. I was not diagnosed with the majority of my severe illnesses until after my DD was born. It is highly unlikely that I will live long enough to see her graduate, get married or have babies. I choose to be as involved as I can for as long as I can. I want her to remember me. I want her to remember that I was always there for her, no matter how bad I hurt or how sick I am. My time with her will be over far too soon! I only have a short amount of time to give her a cache of memories of us to last a lifetime. I had my fun while we battled 15 years of losses and infertility. You're damn right she will be my #1 focus.
My DD is in Kindy. I volunteer in her class one morning a week. This whole situation started three weeks ago when the permission slips for the firehouse field trip came home. Before I filled it out, I asked the teacher if I could chaperone. She said that because I was unable to hold hands with the children while walking to the fire station, that I could not be a chaperone. It seemed like a logical explanation to me. This is not what upset me. At this time it did not occur to me to ask to accompany them as a non-chaperone as many able-bodied parents have done in the past.
A week ago, I overheard a couple of moms discussing the field trip. One of them made a comment that she was relieved to be going as a non-chaperone. Now, this piqued my interest.
It got me to thinking. I didn't see any reason why I could not handle accompanying them on a two hour field trip so close to home.
That afternoon when I picked DD up from school, I asked the teacher if it would be possible for me to accompany them as a non-chapperone. Keep in mind, there is no person limit on this field trip. It is a public building and I have been welcomed there many times before. Adding me a week before the field trip would not have created an issue.
This is when the teacher told me that no, I could not attend because I am unable to walk.
The teacher chose incorrectly.
I then made a stop to the office of the principal. I explained to her the situation. She backed up the teacher. Ok, I get that.
When I asked her to show me the policy forbidding non-chaperoning parents to attend field trips, all I got was a blank stare.
Next, I asked her if she had ever heard of the ADA.
Not able to get anywhere with the principal, I gathered my child and went home. I did not yell, insult or raise any kind of a fuss. I simply thanked her for her time and left.
Last night, my husband called his friend the captain to discuss the situation and get his input. I love those men!
Yesterday, I had a conversation with the superintendent regarding this issue. He informed me that there was no prohibition against non-chaperoning parents attending field trips if the needed accommodations of said parent do not endanger the safety of the children. He added that in this case, he did not see an issue with me attending.
So this morning when I dropped DD off at class, I asked the teacher one last time if I could go. I was again told no. On my way home, I again stopped in to see the principal. She wasn't in her office.
The field trip kids were scheduled to leave the school at 10:20 AM.
At 10:00 I was back at her office. This time she was there. As I began to inform her of my conversation with the superintendent the previous night, the captain from the firehouse walked into the principals office.
The look on her face was FUCKING PRICELESS!
He informed her that he was aware that she was personally in violation of the ADA, and that if she did not change her stance with a quickness, he had every news agency in the area on speed dial and could have them there within 15 minutes.
Before anyone asks, no, neither myself or my DH asked him to do this. I am perfectly comfortable fighting my own battles. I already had a plan to use a similar argument myself. My uncle is a civil rights attorney and he has been advising me through this whole situation. He was more than willing to file a lawsuit on my behalf should it become necessary.
I have never seen a grown woman backtrack so fast! And that is saying a lot considering how much time I spend in MC...lol
So, as a result, I enjoyed a wonderful field trip with my daughter and her class. I was able to keep up with everyone just fine on my scooter and there were no special accommodations needed for me.
Unless someone can convince me otherwise, the only fault I see in my handling of the situation was not asking to attend until a week before the field trip. It should have occurred to me sooner to make my request. The thought didn't cross my mind until I heard the other moms discussing it. It is not a mistake I will make again in the future.
To those of you who have been patiently waiting for the conclusion of my morning, I thank you for sticking with it. I truly hope it was worth it!
Tune in next time for the adventures of the Wiccan disabled mama navigating the public school system...lol
As a thank you to Captain Drew, I will be dropping off the double batch of brownies that DD and I made last night to them after I get DD from school.