I will be very thankful if you could share this in your page till it reaches the proper forum. Thank you in advance.
An Open Letter To OB Montessori – Greenhills
by Carissa Legua-Lapus
Dear Ms. Soliven,
I am writing this letter to narrate the discrimination/disappointment that I have experienced during our application to your school.
Due to some positive feedbacks that we have received from friends/relatives regarding your school, we have decided to apply our 2 kids for this coming school year. My kids are aged 6 y/o (for Grade 1) and 5 y/o (for Prep or Advanced Casa). I have already made previous inquiries and school visits months before our application and I must say that I was greatly impressed with the facilities and the accommodating staff that you have at OB MOntessori – Greenhills. I was also satisfied with the teacher:student ratio which was of utmost importance to me, the reason for which I will explain later. All of these things convinced me that it was a good idea to transfer my kids to your school from their previous preschool (which my kids and I loved).
I also made an early inquiry because I had a specific concern regarding my eldest child, my 6 y/o daughter. You see, my daughter has a very rare congenital disease called Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS). This disorder causes her to barely breathe while she is asleep. Because of this, she has a tracheostomy (since she was one month old) so that she could be hooked to her ventilator when she is asleep. I will no longer burden you with the details of her medical history. I would just like to say that she survived well despite this condition. She is at par in terms of cognitive intelligence with other kids her age and had no learning difficulties whatsoever. As the directress of her previous preschool said, “Nikki has no learning difficulties whatsoever. She does not need to undergo special education. She just has a medical condition that needs to be addressed while in school.” She does ballet and is not limited to her physical activities (except for swimming due to the hole in her neck). She is excited to go to school every day and finds joy in participating in her school activities. She likes to makes friends and thrives well in various social groups. All in all, I can say that she lives her life with gusto and we consider ourselves very lucky to have her in our life.
I prepared all the necessary paper works for their application and secured a medical certificate for both of my kids. I was accommodated warmly and was adviced to wait for a scheduled interview of the kids with the teachers. An interview with the school nurse was also placed in order since my daughter needed to have her private nurse with her at the school. This was our previous set-up from her previous preschool. They allowed her nurse to stay at school although not inside the classroom. My daughter needed her nurse to suction her secretions once in awhile (once or twice only) and to observe her while she is at school. This is our way to make sure that her medical needs are being met.
I was feeling positive with the application because despite my daughter’s medical condition, she received high grades during her last school year (all her grades are in the 90s range). It was just a question of whether or not the school would be able to accommodate her medical needs.
I received a call yesterday from Ms. Rose Domingo. She asked if I would be free to come to the school today regarding our application. I assumed that it was for the scheduled interview and replied that I could bring the kids for the interview in the afternoon. Ms. Domingo then informed me that there is no need to bring the kids in for an interview because they would just like to discuss some things with me. What she said gave me feeling of foreboding. She then continued to inform me that they have discussed regarding my daughter’s condition and her application to their school. She told me that the school set-up will not be suited for my daughter. The school doctor even recommended that my daughter be homeschooled instead. I asked whether a decision has already been made. Ms. Domingo then told me that the owner of the school and the school doctor have already made their decision not to accept my daughter to your school. I was flabbergasted because a decision was already made even without interviewing my family and my daughter. An objective assessment of my daughter was not even made and you have already decided not to accept her. Is that fair? I felt humilated. I felt angry. I felt that my daughter was discriminated by people who do not actually know her and have not seen her. You do not know the capabilities of my daughter and only chose to consider her disability. I could have easily accepted your decision if this was done after a comprehensive interview/assessment with her. But to make such a decision without making the proper assessment is outright unfair. It is also unlawful. Section 12 of the Disability Act clearly states that, “It shall be unlawful for any learning institution to deny a disabled person to any course it offers by reason of handicap or disability”.
I am writing this open letter so that you would know that even though you do have a right to choose whether or not to accept a child at your school, the application process should be done in a fair and comprehensive manner. I am also writing this letter as a word of caution to other parents who have kids with special needs like my daughter to think twice before they try to apply their children to your school, to save them from the humiliation and discrimination that we have experienced.
I hope that you will be able to examine your decision-making process in the future so that other families will not feel oppressed and limited just by having kids that are not part of the norm due to their medical condition or disability.
I also hope that you will never experience what I have experienced as a parent of a child with special needs. Please be fair in all your dealings and remain true to your school’s dictum.
Mrs. Carissa Lapus