Upper Adams School District Fails Us Again (and Why Vida Charter School Is Awesome)

My oldest son does not attend our local school district. He goes to a public charter school in the neighboring district.
Why? Because in 1st grade and the beginning of 2nd, Upper Adams School District failed him miserably. He was being bullied, but the bullies didn’t get in trouble. The victim did.
Sure, Zeke is different. He’s smarter than average, more caring than normal, and he’s a domestic violence survivor with PTSD. He went  through a phase where he got back at the bullies by stealing things from their desks, which we dealt with harshly. But he’s NOT a bad kid. The principal at Biglerville Elementary disagrees.
Zeke once got three days of recess detention for messing with a bird’s nest on the playground. (That’s nine recesses in the library with the principal. In first grade.) But the boys who pushed him down regularly and the girl who called him names? Not even a reprimand.
So after struggling to get the school to address the issues properly, I pulled him out. We tried a cyber school – too much work for both of us. We tried home schooling – nothing’s learned when the child refuses to listen to his mother. And then we found Vida Charter School.

Vida means “life” in Spanish, and that’s exactly what the school has brought us. Zeke is doing great there! He struggles, acts out more than he did at his old school, but they CARE about him. They help him. He does not get bullied, and every issue that arises (usually his refusal to do course work) is dealt with in a reasonable manner. At Biglerville, he was in a special reading class because ha was performing under par. At Vida, he’s reading well beyond his grade level.
In order for Zeke to get to his school, he’s been getting on the local high schoolers’ bus, then switching to a different bus at the high school for the 20 minute ride to Vida. At the end of each day, he was being dropped at the elementary school, where he and his little brother would board a local bus and ride the rest of the way home together. It was hectic at first but was working just fine until today.
This morning Zeke left for the bus at his usual time. Forty minutes later he came home, scared to death that he was going to be in trouble for missing the bus.

Now, the bus has always been scheduled to arrive at 7:20, but it rarely came before 7:27, so Zeke’s usual time for heading out the door was 7:21. We thought maybe it just came on time today. But when I called the school to let them know he had missed the bus and would not be in, I found out he’s not the only one.
The local district had their last day of classes on Friday, June 3. Vida’s school year ends on June 10. UASD decided fulfilling their obligation to get transfer students to school was not worth sending a driver to each bus stop, since their own students no longer needed the ride.
Apparently, UASD thinks that transfer kids should have to find a way to Biglerville High School before getting a ride to school. For Zeke, that would mean walking 3.7 miles. According to Google Maps, it would take the average pedestrian 1 hour 13 minutes.

Oh, and there’s a warning that says, “Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.” It’s right, only the first and last blocks of the trip have any sidewalk at all, as the only “walkable” path is along a major state road.
They claim to have notified us, but the postcard I received simply stated that we should expect our child to arrive home a little later than usual for the next week, since one bus would be taking students home in the most convenient order, rather than following the usual routine.

So to reiterate… this morning my eight year old stood alone at the bus stop for FORTY MINUTES, while I thought he was on his way to school, growing more worried by the minute, because the district transportation department didn’t think he was WORTH SENDING A BUS for.

* * *

I received a phone call while writing this, saying that our principal has worked it out. She reminded the UASD transportation department head about the district’s legal obligation to provide transportation for all students to the schools of their choice. Zeke will be able to attend the last week of school via his usual bus stop location and time.

Miss April: THANK YOU!
Upper Adams School District: You’ve succeeded in upholding your usual low standard. Kudos on that.

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2 thoughts on “Upper Adams School District Fails Us Again (and Why Vida Charter School Is Awesome)

  1. Hi, I really feel for you and your son. My son relies on special transport to get to his autism school each day and I would be beside myself if anything like this happened to him. I'm glad your son was safe but it is sad that our special kids are not always considered as special as they truly are. The school you have found for him sounds wonderful, my son is transitioning to a mainstream school next year so we're keeping everything crossed that it goes well. I hope all continues to be well for you and your son too!

  2. Oh my gosh, I can't imagine what you must of felt going through the "bullying" phase that Zeke went through. I wish I could put my son in a bubble where only his legs would pop out so he could walk but nothing could hurt him physicaly hahaha.But hats off to you for finding him a better place where he's much happier.God Bless you and your family!

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