Our continued pressure on the School Board had drawn the attention of the local media and several articles had appeared in our local newspaper. The public disclosure brought out support from our community in trying to bring our children back. There was also the negative response toward spending money on “those handicapped kids.” “Why should I, as a taxpayer,have to pay for that.” Did I do a slow burn when hearing those things? Of course I did, but understood at this time we were being watched by many and that being perceived as angry and irrational would not serve our purpose. I had to appear calm and factual as the appointed spokesperson for our small band of parents.
To some we were being portrayed as parents of those children with hearing impairments stirring up trouble. The media attention did bring forth an unexpected result… as other parents of children with disabilities (besides deafness) began to emerge and rally to support us. (http://www.ptopmiami.org/).
The local group called Parent to Parent was small in numbers and we were invited to attend their meetings. The support group meetings gave me access to other families but not the information I was looking for.
As a man I was focused on fixing the problem and not how I felt about all that was happening to me. I kept those feelings to myself and moved on. It would have been in my best interest to have found an emotional outlet for those feelings, but there were few fathers actually involved and the support groups were designed by mothers for mothers and did not meet my needs.
This did eventually lead several of us to spin off and form the first Father to Father support group in Florida (which over the years morphed into the Florida Fathers Network).(http://www.flafathers.com/)
Looking back I will admit to being obsessed with prevailing in returning my son to his neighborhood school without noticing the impact it had on his older brother. (http://nichcy.org/families-community/siblings) One of the things I most regret is the unequal provision of attention during this period of time. I am really unsure of how I could have done things differently and achieved the outcomes I did, but do feel it is worth addressing as this story progresses.
Finally the decision from my complaint arrived in the mail from the Florida Department of Education. (http://www.fldoe.org/default.asp)