My experience with public school

girl studyingThroughout my public school years I always struggled with teachers, school counselors, and just about everybody in administration. When I began school, I started having problems immediately. No one there believed that I had mental illnesses. I did get a 504 plan starting in the 3rd grade. It consisted of bathroom breaks or breaks in general without questions, but my teacher didn’t follow my accommodations at all. I had the same accommodations on my 504 plan each year and each year the school did not follow it. I was given a pass to go to guidance and the school nurse whenever I needed. Multiple times when I would go to the nurse, she would tell me I was faking and send me back to class.

One incident happened where I was having a severe panic attack.  I went to my guidance counselor because I needed someone immediately but she was no help. As I was walking in, she was ready to walk out. She saw I was in distress so she sat me down to talk – or so I thought. I sat down, then she said she didn’t have time to talk because she had lunch duty.  She handed me a piece of chocolate and left me in her office alone. I started really freaking out because I didn’t know what to do. I was not allowed to call my mom because the school didn’t want me to go home when I had a panic attack. I was scared and felt I couldn’t trust anyone. When she came back, she looked at me with a nasty look and asked me why I was still in her office. I couldn’t even talk because of how bad I was panicking.

I was diagnosed with depression right before I started junior high, along with the anxiety I already had. My teachers constantly picked on me for falling asleep in class even though it was my medication making me tired. I had one teacher yell at me and tell me I should go take my meds in front of my entire class. I was extremely embarrassed.

I was always a quiet kid but I started getting mouthy with my teachers because they treated me with no respect whatsoever. They would threaten to take things from me, send me to the office and, in some cases, they would give me detention or an in-school suspension. My teachers still didn’t follow my 504 plan.

My high school years were the worst of all. I tried a new school that eventually didn’t work out due to my mental illnesses. I went back to my old school. After years of fighting with the school, I finally got an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Even with an IEP, the school still did not do what they agreed to do for me. I stopped going because I was having a really hard time.

I got diagnosed with agoraphobia shortly after that. My psychiatrist filled out a home/hospital form, which is a doctor’s order that lets a student be educated at home. During this time, the school sent cops to my house, filed a CHINS on me and called the Department of Children and Families. After being out for two school years, I went back for a short time to see if they would help me get back on track. The only thing they did was put me in a “quiet” room which was really the printer/fax machine/microwave/coffee maker/student file room.  Teachers constantly were in and out to get stuff or do something and would always tried to converse with me while I would try to work.

Finally, after doing all I could do to get the school to help me and listen, I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to leave public school altogether and get my GED. Being out of school relieved a lot of stress and anxiety from my life.

I wanted this blog to end with a happy ending, like most of them. But my story isn’t over yet.   I have big plans for my future and I won’t let anything hold me back.

G.G, a 16 year old youth, is our guest blogger.  G.G. enjoys music, the arts and has completed the intern program at Youth MOVE Massachusetts.

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5 thoughts on “My experience with public school

  1. My son, unfortunately, went through much the same thing. The school refused to acknowledge his mental heath diagnoses and blamed me for his lack of attendance at school. I do no believe they did not understand; I believe they did not want to admit to understand. It is shameful that many schools do not support those with organic brain disorders. These students are being severely underserved and, as this young girl did, dropping out of school. Time for a change!

  2. So sorry to hear of your troubles and glad you have found some relief and success. What do you suggest public schools could have done to better support you?

    1. G.G.-thanks for sharing your story. It is so important to hear the perspective of the person that is affected. YOU are the most important piece of the puzzle. I wonder if a therapeutic school would have helped you to complete high school with more support. A school should NEVER file a CRA on a child with mental illness if the absences are a symptom of the illness. My child (who is now 26 married and going to school online) similarly had severe anxiety and depression in high school. Here is a different school approach.Our school district was tolerant of her tardies and absences and treated it as a medical condition. When it became apparent that she was not able to access the curriculum in the regular high school setting, even with supports, the district agreed to place her a therapeutic school (New England Academy) This was a completely different environment with supports needed to succeed and she was able to graduate. Your story is absolutely NOT over! You can go on to college or a vocational program of your choice. Perhaps you prefer to learn online, be an artist, a researcher, any number of wonderful life experiences await you.

  3. I am glad you have come thru this, you are very strong. I could not help but cry in pain for you. My 10 year old girl, after being parentally abducted this summer and since start of school she her brother & I have been.relocated 9 times. She has been.traumatized & her school filed a CRA due to her absences. All were because their lack of transportation or her trauma experiences and staff not being able to cope. She was out on medical leave, like you waiting for educational supports to start. The Brookline school filed a CRA, formerly the CHINS. At the preliminary hearing, against DCF recommendations, Judge ordered her out of the programs, out of our 24 hour care in a domestic violence recovery housing program…and into foster care. No one will help. I wish she could talk with someone like you…they give her nothing and the more I beg, the worse it gets.
    Blessings, Jane

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