Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My discouraging day in court...

I don't normally cry. So pissed they made me do it today. I know they think it was about the stupid $140 I was forced to pay. Please. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am still in tears as I write this. Why can't we just get to the point where educated adults can decide this is right and that is wrong? What happened to common sense and decency? It certainly was nowhere to be found in The Colony Courtroom today. Being a a parent and advocate for a special needs child is one of the hardest jobs there is. I try to never stress over the stares, questions, idiocy and ignorance of people. But today was about my little boy and how he needed me to be his mom.

Prosecutor Chase Griffith, could anyone be more smug, heartless and condescending? The second I sat down he wanted to show how 'smart' he was. Guessing my 'crime' like it was some kind of game show. Yes, he has seen this same citation walk through the doors many, many times. I knew from the second I met him he was a class A jerk. Yes, I made an illegal right turn into the driveway, but do you even care why?  You did it, period, end of story, who cares if your kid has a medical emergency while the driveway is blocked, who cares if you can't get to him if he needs you. You make that turn you are getting a ticket.

A little background. Ryan, my 7 yo, has Down Syndrome, OCD, Hyperactivity, Implusiveness, Sensory Processing Disorder, Chronic rectal prolapse and is on the Autism Spectrum. He goes to  Morningside Elementary in The Colony Texas. Morningside is an amazing school with an amazing special ed program. What isn't so amazing is the design of their parking lot.

Ryan had been riding the bus since Kindergaten but recently he was having some anxiety/behavioral issues that caused me to start driving him. Life is not easy for this little guy so if I can reduce some of his stress, than of course, I am going to do it. Now let me see if I can explain the craziness that is Morningside's parking lot. During afternoon pick-up the car pool line starts backing up pretty early. Sometimes as early as 2:15 the cars are already forming for a 2:50 dismissal. When the line starts forming there are about 8 cars that are physically in the parking lot then the rest start forming a line down the drive and onto the street. The entrance to the driveway has two lanes, an entrance and and exit. Since the bell doesn't ring until 2:50 no cars are ever exiting between 2:15 and 2:50..you can't move until you get your kid, right?

When I told Ryan's teachers he was going to stop riding the bus they said 'okay, our kiddos get let out around back at 2:30'. Now the special-ed driveway is not accessible from the street. You have to drive into the main parking lot to get to it.  So therefore, in order to pick him up at 2:30, I, along with all the other special-ed parents, sometimes have to make a right hand turn into the parking lot by-passing all the cars in the carpool lane. This is just the lay of the land at this school. I have seen it be done a MILLION times since he started there. There is only one way in and one way out so when the only way in is blocked by cars we have no other option but to go around them. I honestly thought it was understood that this is how it was done. Evidently not. Since this incident I was informed we can pick our kiddos up after the bell. But that doesn't solve the access to my son issue.

One afternoon as I was making my 'illegal' turn to go pick up Ryan. Officer Simmons of The Colony PD followed me behind the building to where the Special Ed kids are let out.  He pulled up behind me and waited while I struggled for 10 minutes to get Ryan in the car. It was his usual yelling and dropping to the ground routine that we often go through when getting him to do something he may not want to. He literally stood there and watched me have a anxiety attack over my childs behavior. I didn't know he was waiting on me so I asked him..'Are you needing me?" He said 'Yes, but I will wait until your done." Seriously?? So I pulled up and he proceeded to tell me he was giving me a citation for making an illegal turn into the school. I was speechless. I thought that was how we were suppose to get to our kids! I asked him how I was suppose to pick my son up. His response."I don't know, you should ask the principal". And my favorite..."We are really cracking down on this so I am not going to give you a warning.". Thanks, buddy, like I don't have enough stress in my life right now. Of course they are cracking down so much that I haven't seen one cop pull over another car since that day. And believe me everyone is still doing it.

I, of course, decided to fight this ticket. Why is it okay to block the only entrance to a school? What if my son's colon prolapsed and I had to go to him immediately? What about the American with Disabilities Act that says all public buildings must have an accessible entrance/exit?  Fast forward to today and my meeting with Prosecutor Griffith. Who had an answer for everything but said nothing. "Yes, if a lady is having a baby and her husband is speeding to the hospital they can get a ticket"... zero common sense left in this world. How can it be that the only way I can get to my son is to break the law?  I asked several legitimate questions that he of course did not have the answers too..."Why is it okay for all of the cars in the carpool lane to block the only entrance?", "What about the ADA act and my son's right to have access in and out of the parking lot?", "What if there is a medical emergency and I had to get to him?". Mrs. Forman this is a traffic court I don't have the answer to those questions. Of course not, it is real easy to do your job when you don't have to think very much. "I only have to prove you made a right turn, doesn't matter why you did it.". 

 No of course it doesn't matter, to you. And there lies the problem.


  1. I say that this letter and send it to the paper!I am fuming myself just reading it. I see this all the time. Fight it, honey. I say "Bring it On!" Love and hugs to you and that precious baby! I have a friend who knows the law and rights of her disabled child and she fights tooth and nail! I stood up for mine! God has placed our babies in our care. He is your special gift! Tell it like it is, honey!

  2. Oh, my, this is such a frustrating situation just reading about it! Sounds like the school needs to make some changes since the police force obviously doesn't have any common sense. I'm not going to suggest that you take on more fight- that's for you to determine whether you have the time or energy. But I so hope & pray that it is made right for you. (((hugs)))

  3. Channel 4........Saul Garza..........Id call him!

  4. I so want to just give you a hug right now!!! I too am a mom with a special needs child that has had to advocate for him and lost. It really is not fair when they don't weigh into the picture the reasons, they don't care about the reasons, they only care about the action that has ocured. I hope for the safety of the children and their families they come up with some other pick up/drop off plan for the kids. Much luck to you and Ryan!!!

  5. I saw your link off a friend's facebook and wanted to stop in and say Hi! We live in the same town (not the same school) but I have heard of lots of parents being ticketed at that school for "turn-in" infractions at pickup. It sounds like a royal PROBLEM to me and I agree with your commenters that you should send this to the paper, call channel 4 news or whichever channel does those private investigation type things. Anything to stop this from happening to the already frazzled moms of special ed kids at that school. Oh...and I am so sorry they made you cry in court. I would have too over something so ridiculous!

  6. My heart breaks for you and your little one. I realize you are very busy...but when you can..call your local TV news !! Also the newspaper....any way you can make it public. Also maybe it would help if the parents banned together and forced the school to remedy the parking situation..this is just WRONG !!!! As for that police officer who watched you struggling with your child..don't get me started!! Where I live on the sides of the police cars..it says: To Protect and Serve" Well is he there to protect your child when you can't get to him??? He tarnishes the title Police Officer..he is sadistic. An old saying...When you feel you have reached the end of your rope....Tie a big knot and hang on! Any mom would do whatever she had to do to get to her special son!! Wish there was something I could do....but know that people do care...

  7. I'm so sorry you had to go through that and it is not right. I would have cried too. I cry when I'm angry.
    The school needs to change their dismissal procedure to accommodate the special needs students. It also sounds like the police dept. knows that the problem exists and stalks the school during dismissal...It's possible that administration has asked the police dept. to do this. I would be livid! I know it would be tempting to go to the media first. Fortunately, scriptures give us counsel on how to handle disputes. I am not a bible thumper, but as a sister in Christ, I want to exhort you to consider the scriptures before you act. Matthew 18: 15 - 17. In application to this situation... first take it up privately with the principal. He or she should be given the opportunity to rectify the problem. If the principal doesn't take action, then you bring in two or three other parents, with the principal. If the school still don't make any changes, then proceed to the superintendent. And if that fails, you go to the local news and newspaper, even a lawyer to draw attention to the problem. I have been on the receiving end of parents of students going straight to the highest authority possible to handle their complaint. That is hurtful and wrong, and you are not a vindictive person. I'd hate to see you add more stress to your life by taking that route.
    Sincerely, Sharon

  8. Stay strong and fight on. I know its easier sometimes to play dead, but when you are your advocate for your child you need to be the mother bear...A mother bear protecting her cub will do anything. It doesn't have to be in a vindictive way, but through the proper channels. You are obviously a very intelligent woman. I know you will work this out for your son.

  9. I have a child with Down Syndrome too, and it is so much more difficult to pick her up from school than for the other parents, and we don't have the behavioral issues you do. Parents park in at our school on both sides of the drive so if you have a car bigger than a "smart car", it is impossible to get through. Hang in there, and send your letter to the paper. Do you have a special needs advocate in your area? They may be able to help too. The school needs to make some accommodation for you. Praying for your peace. And your efforts will make it easier for the next families that come along behind you.

  10. How frustrating! I know you love your son's school, but it really sounds like they need a different process for dismissal. That doesn't change the fact that the officer and the court could have handled this situation differently. So sorry you have to deal with this lack of sensitivity on top of your existing struggles. Perhaps they could install a sign stating that right turns are allowed only during a certain block of time? Perhaps go to City council about it? Hang in there!

  11. I am so glad you included a picture of your little man (what a cutie) it really drove the story home. HOW FRUSTRATING. The court system, the school layout, the officer. If just one of those things was different it would have all been different... Let us know if anything gets resolved. Nothing adds salt to the wound like forking over money huh!

  12. I am lifting you and your precious son up and applaud your courage sounds like u handled things with strength and dignity and I agree you should contact Saul Garza or another one of our great local stations

    Common sense people where is the dang common sense ???
    I wonder what the Prosecutors Wife would say about this...