Fight of my life

March 6, 2012

I literally began to cry, more like sob uncontrollably while she told me the news. “We’d like to accept Luc into the Norman Howard School.” The word perfect fit was said in there somewhere.

In his entire life he’s never ever ever and I mean ever been told he’s a perfect fit for anything. ANYTHING. Ever. It’s not that I thought he wouldn’t be accepted, in my heart I knew he would. I just have a major, and I mean major fight on my hands and I am not sure where to begin.

That’s not true….. I have incredible resources to lean on. I just need to be shown where the starting line is.

Talk about feeling like Davey and Goliath. Here is the situation….. in 2008 we pulled Luc out of the school district, because he was beyond struggling. We got him into a BOCES program which is in a different school district. For the past 3 years he’s been under the guidance of one of the most talented teachers we have ever known. He went there with a 1:1 aide and a behavior plan Now they call him the mayor of the school. The aide was left behind ages ago. They tore up the behavior plan in front of me.  His growth has been exponential. He’s ready to move on but he will not do well in such a big school district.

School districts like to “own” their special education kids. Special ed kids are big money for school districts and let’s face it…… and I understand it…. everything comes down to money. In health care, in education….. in everything. There is always a bottom line….. that’s business, that’s life. I get it. There is a BOCES classroom within our school district and the school he would go to, which I have been asking repeatedly to observe (for about 3 months now). I am left with…… we are working on it Mrs. Eggers.

I am not the parent who comes in with her guns drawn. I am not the parent who raises her voice. I am not the parent who acts as if the world owes me something. I learned how to fight from my Dad….. I kill them with kindness. I work with them. I listen to them. Even if I believe in my heart they are wrong I do not become confrontational with them. I just don’t find value in throwing that sh*t around. I have had patients and parents of patients who act like that. It’s a horrible situation to be in no matter who is right.

The issue is this…. The Norman Howard School is expensive. It’s a tuition set by the state. Sure I have considered a loan, a second mortgage but it would bankrupt me before he even hit college. It’s more than budgeting. If I can prove that our school district can not meet his needs, then they will be required to pay for his tuition at Norman Howard. I am pretty confident I can prove our case. He’s out fo the district right now. In fact his last day in the school district he ended up in psychiatric emergency completely incoherent. What they did to him was horrid and it’s taken him years to overcome that.

Luc’s been up against a brick wall since he was born. I will never forget that psychiatrist who told us “Good luck with this one.” Because he’d never amount to anything. That lit my fire right then and there.

I put down the phone and I started to sob. I don’t even know why. I am terrified yet determined. I shot out a few emails…… please tell me what step one is. I felt overwhelmed but I knew one thing. When I fight for what I believe in…… I win. And this isn’t about winning. It’s not us against them. It’s about what is right for a kid who has fallen through the cracks his entire life. Who doesn’t really belong here or there. Who was told he’d never amount to anything.

Who went to The Norman Howard School for three days last week as a guest and left crying…. because he loved it so much. Who for once in his life feels like he belonged somewhere. Who gets picked on and teased by the “main stream kids” and I will never be able to shield him from that…… it’s part of life we have to face it……  and you can have all the bullying and behavior policies in your school that you want…….. sorry but you can’t control the behavior of children whose parents raised them that way.

I told him that if he was accepted I would find a way for him to go and if I have to make the earth spin backwards. Looks like I have to start pushing.

I came home and sat at the kitchen table. I pulled up the emails from one of the local running coaches who reached out a few weeks ago and gave me clear steps to follow. Another from a friend who is a special education professor. I reached out to our pediatrician, our psychologist. I pulled out documentation from 2008. 2009, and figured out what I need to obtain in terms of reports and report cards. I have categories and lists and things to get in order.

I looked at his school picture hanging on the wall. This wasn’t the path I thought we’d take when we learned we were pregnant. We all have this idea about what parenting will be like and who our children will be. This is not a path I would trade for anything else in this world either. I sure met my match when I met Luc Eggers.

“I don’t think I would ever want to be on the other side of a battle with you.” Curt said to me a few weeks ago. I smiled, because especially from Curt that’s a compliment. I am my father’s daughter after all. Don’t get between me and something I believe in with my heart and my soul. I will quietly and politely fight it to the end. I won’t raise my voice or lose my temper.

But you’d better be warned…….. I will always be prepared. Always. And I am up for the fight of my life.



  1. Incredible!

  2. You are a fighter Mary, and I have no doubt that you will win! You have a great group of people on your side! If you haven’t already, I would try to use your connections to engage your state legislator in this- if you can get them believing in Luc (which of course you can!) they can often be really helpful at pushing this sort of thing along. If that doesn’t work you could try Louise Slaughter’s office- she has an MPH and is very savvy about medical and educational issues. I think you have a great case!!

  3. I always say the BEST parents fight for what they think is right for their kids. Luc is a great kid, and fingers crossed he can go to Norman w/o you paying! GOOD LUCK! I would do the same, Mary!

  4. WIN!

  5. Fight, fight FIGHT until you get it! Kids deserve the BEST in life – he is fortunate to have you as a parent!

  6. One step at a time Mary. I rejoice with you all. I hope April will go really well and decisions will be made for what is the very best for you.
    Sr. Rosemary

  7. From a former NY SpEd teacher, thank you for what you are doing for your son. I know how challenging it can be for parents of students, and have seen all varities of them and realities with kids.

    It’s incredible to find a parent who knows his/her child, respects the system, and is willing to do what is necessary in a fair manner.

    Hold your heart up and keep believing. Your passion, patience, perserverance, and compassion will guide you.

  8. Mary, did you win this battle? Did the district agree to pay for your son to attend this school?

    • JOE! We did! We had to hire a lawyer and everything but we did it! He is about to start his second year. And he was on the honor roll last year, which was something our district said…. would be IMPOSSIBLE!

      • Marvelous. Congratulations to your and your son. May I share your posting with others?


      • ABSOLUTELY! We really had to navigate this whole system ourselves….. so anything we can do to help someone who needs it! THANK YOU!

      • Wonderful. Will do.


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