Why does District 3 School Board Vice Chair Karen Brill feel such an affinity for parents? As the mother of two children, one with special needs, Brill’s entrée into the Palm Beach County School System nearly three decades ago resulted from shocking events she never anticipated.
At the time, her son was a low-functioning autistic. When Brill enrolled him in preschool at Galaxy Elementary School, “he didn’t speak, he didn’t stand still, and he wandered around,” she recalls. “I was able to put him in preschool through the Palm Beach County public schools, in addition to procuring some private services. I missed what we call ‘kindergarten roundup.’ So, I called the school and informed the assistant principal that my son was in a pre-K program at Galaxy Elementary School, and I needed to enroll him in Kindergarten.”
When Brill confirmed her son had a disability, the assistant principal replied, “We don’t take kids like that,” and abruptly hung up the phone. Having relocated from the East Ramapo School District in New York, Brill wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?” The next day, she went to the school and asked for a tour, pretending she’d just moved to the county. Shortly thereafter, her daughter, who is on the gifted spectrum but was challenged in regular classes, came home crying when a classroom aide insisted she was spelling her name incorrectly.
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