Nearly there and a half years ago Diana O’Neill a Venice Elementary School teacher was accused of aggravated child abuse for “torturing, punishing or caging” some of her special education students. Her actions would have put you or me in jail and would have resulted in the removal of our children by DCF. She, however, is still working for the Venice School system and she still draws a salary of nearly $80,000 a year.
In 2008 Ms O’Neil was accused the following actions:
- Backhanding a small girl who had areas of bone missing in her skull.
- Ripping a washcloth our of a student’s mouth with enough force to take a tooth with it.
- Slapping, hitting and kicking students.
- Pushing students down and then laughing at them.
- Hitting students on the head with a “board”.
- Hitting students on the head with a water bottle.
- Verbally abusing students, calling an overweight student “tons of fun” and a mentally challenged student named Olivia – “Oblivia”.
A jury of her peers found her not guilty of the aggravated child abuse. Her defense was that no one understands how hard it is to deal with students who have physical and mental challenges. Her defense also included statements that her actions were accepted practice in the educational system.
Her actions went well beyond abuse – the Florida Department of Education and the local school board administration have no back bone by letting this kind of teacher stay employed in our schools.
Previously posted on Howard’s Blog – View From the Dark Side of the Moon
Being a person with a disability stinks when you have people looking down on you every day. You have trouble doing things you want to do because others won’t give you the opportunity to. Well let me just say forget that crap because it is you life and you should live it like you want to!
I have been through all these troubles and what I found that works best is telling myself that I can do it. Nothing will stop me. I surround myself with people who motivate me and make me want to be a better person. I just go out there with my head held high and I let nothing stop me!
I have a regular high school diploma, bachelor’s degree in business, live on my own, started my own business and more. You can have this too if you tell yourself it’s your life and let nothing sting stop you. You have to get out there and do, no matter what.
Remember the squeaky wheelchair gets noticed!
In the third world children born with disabilities are often left by the side of the road to die. I can not imagine being so distraught or having so little hope that I would leave a child to die.
It would not be fair for me to judge those who have nothing. Those who eek out a day to day existence. Those who are in such abject poverty that they literally have no hope.
Do not misunderstand, I can not and do not condone their actions. A child deserves to live. A child deserves a chance no matter what his or her abilities.
It is just that this has become almost common place in many parts of the world. Of course it can never happen here. Americans would never abandon their children out of despair.
Wrong – It is happening here.
A 10-year-old child with autism was abandoned at Broward General Medical Center in Florida. The mother has been located. She says she was “overwhelmed” and didn’t know what else to do.
Again can we judge this poor mother? The budget to provide services continues to be cut. Raising a child is difficult; raising one with a disability is even harder.
She saw no hope for the future. Of course she saw that. The waiting list to receive services for the disabled is approaching 20,000.
Our government has told us the disabled are unimportant. They have told us they are throw-aways that can be ignored. Our government has told us they do not matter.
One mother got the message loud and clear.
We can not continue to ignore the needs or the most vulnerable.
Dealing with things as a child is hard but imagine being a child with a disability. People have perceptions about the disabled. They assume we are stupid and not worth anything!
A child with a disability has to deal not only with the physical or mental struggles, but also have to deal with people not wanting to have anything to do with you. People saying you are stupid and will not give you the time of day.
The temptation is to become solitary and do things by yourself. If you are put down often enough, you may even become what people say you are. This is one of the reasons persons with disabilities grow up angry at the world!
You may ask, how do I get to be treated like anyone else? You have to believe in yourself because if you don’t, then don’t expect anything. Telling yourself you can and you will is going to be a major roll in this. Get in there and say yes!
You have to put yourself in the midst of people who want nothing to do with you. Get in their face. They will either accept you right away or get so pissed that they let you in so they don’t have to deal with you any more.
Remember the squeaky wheelchair gets the grease.
Thomas and his dad Howard are team bloggers and speakers on disability issues. Thomas is a self-advocate and Howard advocates from the prospective or a parent.
They have a different, real world look at disabilities, what it is like to be disabled, what it is like to live with a disability, what it is like to raise a child with a disability.
They are both outspoken advocates who are not afraid to speak their mind and take a stand that is not always popular.