Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eliza/SOU - A couple more thoughts

I am truly overwhelmed by the kind words and heartfelt letters we have received from so many. It makes me cry, but it is the good kind of crying. The kind that gives me hope that the world could be a better place if only more people would let go of the 

  exclusion model and instead see the amazing, wonderful mix of children and adults that we all are. You have truly inspired me with your kind words. Eliza discovered them all on her IPhone and started reading them earlier this evening :-).

Unless you had the perseverance to make it through all that I sent you last night, I realize now that it might help for me to comment directly to the claims made in the letter and give an outline of the time frame. 

As evident in comments received by you, some of you have thought the comments in the letter may have been the teacher being disgruntled...I haven't believed this to be the case. Robin, the professor, has been nothing but kind and considerate of Eliza and treats her no differently than she does the other students - with respect and showing interest in her work. She has given me (and I've been there for every one of the 13 classes Eliza has been in) no reason to believe she personally wishes Eliza not be there. Because she is an assistant professor and not a full professor, she could be reporting to and under scrutiny by superiors as the word I am getting is that full professors have discretion of what students they allow in their classes without interference from higher up. 

Points of the letter from SOU to Eliza are:
1) Students are required to be able to engage at a particular cognitive level to be allowed in - Hmmm, I can't find anything that substantiates this statement....I'm not aware that "cognitive level" is currently being tested and amount of learning acquired measured of anyone currently enrolled as an auditing, non-admitted students.
2) Accommodations requested would fundamentally alter the course - How? 
3) Not qualified to meet the academic standards - What are the academic standards for someone auditing a course? I did find this link describing "academic standards": http://www.sou.edu/studentaffairs/SOU%20Student%20Policy%202.pdf   Maybe somebody else can find the "standard" that Eliza is not qualified to meet - I can't. 

If learning is good and learning happens for Eliza, can someone suggest that every student at this academic institution MUST "learn" at a certain level and how are they determining what that is for the students auditing who technically don't have to do any of the work?   

Here's a couple of definitions from the SOU Website: 

Nonadmitted Student

An undergraduate or graduate student who is not admitted to SOU, not working toward a degree or certification, and not enrolled for more than 8 credits.

Auditing

A student may choose to take a class for audit with instructor permission. The student is not required to do any of the coursework and does not receive a grade. Classes are often audited if they are not needed for graduation and if the student is interested in learning the course material but not in earning a grade. There is no fee reduction for auditing a class. A student must choose to audit a course by the registration deadlines listed in the Academic Calendar.

Here is a quick snap shot of the time line of events:
:
Early August - Eliza enrolled as a non-admitted student
August 16th - She registered for "Introduction to Ceramics"
September 19th - 25th
   1. Deb sent email to Assistant Professor - Robin Strangfeld - to introduce Eliza and let her know of our interest in assisting Eliza in the class.
   2. Out of curiosity went to the SOU Disability Resources Office and made appointment to learn what accommodations are available to student with disabilities. None seemed relevant or needed. Did discuss the personal assistant option.
   3. Participated in various orientation activities - talks; welcome to SOU for new students at Raider Stadium; women's volleyball game; the Art Major Orientation where we met Robin and the other art professors and toured the different art facilities. 
September 26th & 28th Signed personal assistant form and went to first class. Classes are from 1:00-3:50 on Monday and Wednesday. Met fellow students and participated right off the bat in partner activities with Deb facilitating as needed. 
September 29th - Received a phone call from Dean of Students, Laura O'Bryon, asking Deb to get Eliza settled and not speak to Eliza or other students during class. 
October 4th & 6th - Deb pulled back and worked in adjourning room letting Eliza do own work.  Class went up to gallery, Eliza went with Robin and class, Deb stayed put. The 4th point of letter describes this trip to the gallery...I wasn't aware they ever went across a street and I wasn't there to witness what they describe.  The "interfering with curriculum" statement seems to be coming from this week, when I was asked not to intercede with Eliza or students. I would maintain that no curriculum was altered or professor having to take time away from the other students when I was allowed to act as facilitator for Eliza. 
October 7th - Eliza received a phone call from Dean of Students asking her and I to come in and meet. Eliza was immediately worried that she had done something wrong and announced to Deb that "it is very humiliating."  Set meeting for 11:00 on Monday, Oct 11th.
October 11th & 13th - Deb, Ron and Eliza thought they were going to meet with Dean of Students. Got there and found Sue Walsh, Associate Provost, and Vicki Purslow, Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences came to meet as well. Discussed Eliza's desires, learning style, and assistant needs. Were surprised to hear claims that the curriculum was being altered due to Eliza. Assured all that Eliza was successfully included at AHS with an educational assistant without interfering with curriculum or disrupting the class and that Deb was there to serve in that capacity. Meeting ended with our being asked to switch Eliza to audit and Dean of Student's suggestion that they find an art major student to be Eliza's assistant. In class, Deb asked Robin if she could assist Eliza as needed and Robin indicated that would be fine.  Eliza was switched from credit to audit status this week. 
October 18th, 20th, 25th, 27th, Nov. 1st, 3rd, 8th - Eliza attended class with Deb assisting. Worked on all her projects both in and out of class - coil, slab and portrait - she was fully engaged in and committed to all 3.  We were not aware of Eliza's presence being harmful in anyway to teacher or students.  Eliza recieved a phone call from Alissa Arp on our way to post office and class on Nov. 8th. She asked if we had received the letter. We had the slip in hand and were on our way to the post office to pick it up.  
November 9th - Opened the certified letter - learned Eliza was being withdrawn. All of us were shocked and upset - no prior communication for 4 weeks, thought everything was going great and then boom. Ron called for clarification on if she was still to attend class during the grievance process. Alissa Arp returned call and talked to Deb. She was not to go to class - effective immediately. Deb asked if they would reconsider - allowing Eliza to finish her last 7 classes and once quarter was complete, Eliza would go elsewhere for her education. Dean Arp said she would check and let us know. 
November 10th - Got a call from Dean Arp and decision stands. Said decision was going over their heads and up to State. Told Dean Arp that the letter was dated October 19th and yet we hadn't received it until Nov. 8th - how were we supposed to respond in 10 days of the date with our grievance? She replied it would be 10 days from the time we picked up the letter at the post office. We were both disappointed and amazed by their decision to terminate Eliza with only 7 more classes left. Eliza was very unhappy and could not understand why they no longer wanted her to be a student. She very much wanted to go to class on Wednesday - as she had projects needing attention. Eliza and Deb decided to write letters to students and Robin to explain why Eliza isn't in class. Delivered the letters 20 minutes before the end of class and picked up her punch bowl project. We were bummed and students who opened their letters were incredulous. 
November 11th - Ron called President Mary Cullinan's office and spoke with her explaining what had transpired from our perspective.  She was unaware of the decision. Wanted Ron to go to staff below her. He urged her to go ask the students and teacher to see how they felt about having Eliza in the class. She agreed to check into the situation. 
November 12th - No word. Deb sends out email to friends and family
November 13th - Peter Buckley speaks with Mary Cullinan - She stated this was an academic decision and she doesn't typically interfere with any academic decisions. She was unaware of who made decision. Promises to find out who and why. Letters are coming, Students plan to take issue, with Eliza, to Student Senate on Tuesday. 

The letters you are sending are extremely important. Please continue to send all letters to:

http://www.ggs.net/mail/src/compose.php?send_to=debron3@gmail.com
http://www.ggs.net/mail/src/compose.php?send_to=elizaschaaf@gamil.com
http://www.ggs.net/mail/src/compose.php?send_to=presidentsoffice@sou.edu

They can still be sent snail mail as well...but, since time is of the essence, we will print them here and hand deliver letters to appropriate people on Monday. If you can't get us anything by Monday, just send when ever you are able...I'm guessing this won't get reversed with out a process - unfortunately.  I'd love to be wrong.

Before I let you go and get some sleep :-) I just want to pass on one more tidbit. Ironically the day Eliza got her letter, I got this link emailed to me from a friend...as I said, it's coming, just not sure when - to Southern Oregon. 
 

§                                 University launches program for students with intellectual disabilitiesThe University of Arizona is launching a certificate program this summer for Tucson, Ariz., students with intellectual disabilities. Federal grant money will help provide partial scholarships for students to enroll in the two-year program, which will offer students a combination of academics, experience with campus life and skills for life and careers. The effort is meant to serve the first generation of students who are graduating from high schools with inclusion programs. Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) (11/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

THANKS SO MUCH, YOUR SUPPORT MEANS THE WORLD TO US!

-- 
Deb Evans
541-601-4748
http://www.ggs.net/mail/src/compose.php?send_to=debron3@gmail.com

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