The Great Wooster High French Fry Conspiracy

by Deidre Hammon

illustration of carryout french fries. yum! 
'They're not good
for people like you.'
In May of 1998, my daughter Brianna and I visited the campus at Wooster High. The Vice Principal, Mr. B, took one look at us and said, "Oh, special ed self-contained?" He was apparently talking about Brianna as he was clearly not speaking to her.
I replied, "No. High school student, fully included."
Mr. B showed us a classroom he indicated was "self-contained." He then stated, "the students get off the bus here..." indicating a door, "come through here," indicating a short hallway, "are in here for the day," indicating the classroom, "and leave through here again at the end of the day..." indicating the exit.
Brianna looked at me, horrified, and I asked, "You mean, they don't take classes on the campus with the rest of the students?"
"Oh, NO!" he said, leaning over to whisper in a loud stage voice, "They're retarded!"
I advised Mr. B, "We used to think black skin rubbed off too, but it doesn't."

Wooster High maintains segregated classrooms, an exaggerated number of disabled students suspended under the tardy policy, and compliance-oriented education that robs students of autonomy and their natural, self-protective behaviors.
Brianna is interested in the unfair segregation of students with disabilities. She visits one of these "special" classes at lunch time in an attempt to understand this discrimination and has established relationships with students who are discriminated against in this manner.
Recently she reported that two of the students in this classroom were no longer allowed to eat french fries because the "teacher," WR, said that to do so would cause heart attacks. It is not clear if WR is a special ed teacher, aide, or simply someone who seeks to control students with disabilities.
Brianna and I discussed how inappropriate it is for a teacher to make personal choices for students. We discussed that it is a normal part of American culture, especially adolescent culture, to eat french fries. We could not think of a single person we know who does not eat french fries.
We also discussed the difference between the rights of students who are typically developing as opposed to those who happen to have disabilities. She could see that no one monitors/controls the diets of students outside the segregated environment, while the students in the segregated environment have their educational/social/and behavioral lives dictated by the lifestyle of the teacher who happens to be in charge.

On March 21, 2000, Brianna advised me that the teacher with the french fry issues, Ms. W R, works or helps in the lunchroom and she refused to give Brianna french fries although it was her choice of lunch food.
Brianna has attempted to avoid this teacher's line so that she may continue to have autonomy in her lunch routine. Today, March 23, 2000, this "teacher" threatened Brianna in the lunchroom, saying, "This is the last time you are going to sneak french fries and a corn dog by me again! Tomorrow you are having soup. I'll have soup with you."
Because Brianna has previously been locked in closets by "teachers" at both a Washoe County elementary school site and a Washoe County Middle School site, Brianna has a very real fear, based on solid experiential knowledge, that she is in danger.

These are excerpts from the Hammons' 504/ADA complaint on this subject. We think the Department of Justice will get a good chuckle out of it. But then again, as we know too well, they don't open their complaint mail in the first place.

Link to this issue in our online
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