Justice Has Been Served

the-truth-will-set-you-free“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

My daughter graduated from Lebanon Valley College here in Pennsylvania last Saturday. To say we are proud in an understatement.

The commencement address was based on the subjects of truth and knowledge. I sat in the audience hanging on every word.  It was as if we were the only two in the room. I was meant to hear this speech.

You see, my daughter didn’t take the typical academic path to becoming a college graduate, her path reads like the plot of a LifeTime movie. It’s best to watch these movies from your couch, not play them out in your lives.

Eight years ago I set out to have some questions answered about what was going on behind closed doors at the grade school my children had attended. There were some red flags on the ground right from its inception, but it was much easier to turn a blind eye than to admit that something might be wrong with this miraculous academic facility that landed in our neighborhood wearing all sorts of bells and whistles with $0 tuition. Why would we ever rock that boat?

My daughter was a student since the doors opened in 1999, but it wasn’t until she entered her Freshman year of high Truthschool that the truth was all up in my face shaking me silly. Look at me dammit!

We were in the midst of requesting that our daughter be transitioned from a Special Education classroom into a full-time mainstream classroom. Sounds easy enough right?

She was diagnosed with learning differences in 3rd grade and had been in the Special Education system, but while she was in Middle School we felt it was time to move forward since she was doing so well. We were looking at her academic future and our belief that she would be attending college in just 3 more years. Perfect attendance. Straight A’s. Honor Roll. What else would we be thinking? 

This is when we, including my daughter, were informed by what I like to consider the Sarah Palin of School Psychologists “your daughter will never go to college, not even a community college.” What?!

pulp-fiction-say-what-again_18912_Have you ever been floored? I mean stunned to the point that you were paralyzed? That is how I felt in this moment. To this day I’m not sure what happened, but as I sat stunned my husband was reenacting a scene from Pulp Fiction, pushing the table across the room and demanding answers from pseudo Sarah on how a child receiving straight A’s throughout her entire academic career could not have the opportunity to attend college? Yikes! 

The answer: She was being tested on what she knew and was not being challenged beyond her own knowledge. As if that weren’t enough to absorb, learning that the person making these educational decisions on behalf of my child was an ex police officer with a high school diploma. Let that sink in for a minute.

Immediately following this meeting I put my Nancy Drew cap on and began digging, but little did I know I was about to open a can of worms that escalated to the size of a vat overnight. Fast & Furious.

Fast forward after months of giving Nancy Drew a serious run for her money. Speaking before the School Reform Commission. Endless emails, letters and visits to the School District of Philadelphia. Visits to our State Representatives and Congressman. Meetings with the Inspector Generals Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. But most of all the relentless efforts of Martha Woodall, an educational reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

CustomStickerMakersFirstAmendment-01

Surprise! Life With The Top Down is a living breathing whistleblowerYes, its true and I’m still getting shunned today as a result. Learn something new every day now don’t we.

Silly me, I thought people would be happy to know that the reason their kids weren’t receiving services was because millions of their tax dollars were being squandered by the administration, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Learning that everything you believed to be true is a fucking lie doesn’t go over very well among the masses. 

The story is a long one that reads so much like a fiction novel it would leave you questioning its authenticity. Trust me, I lived it and still question it. 

The bottom line is this … blah, blah, blah:

  • Most popular Charter school in Philadelphia is in the middle of a scandal.
  • Open the door to more scandals at 18 other schools.
  • Lawsuits
  • Millions stolen
  • Indictments
  • Federal Hearings
  • Suicide
  • Prison
  • Law Changes
  • Therapy
  • Justice Served

Here are a few of the many articles written about the insanity. Our First Amendment ROCKS!

http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20091228_Troubles_persist_at_several_charters.html

http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20100503_U_S__probe_widens_to_18_city_charters.html

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq_ed_board/Judge_Robrenos_tough_love.html

Although justice had been served in a Federal Courtroom years ago, it was not served until May 9, 2015 for my daughter. We had put this part of our lives behind us, or so I thought. Two days before graduation my daughter sent me a photo of her transcript that read “Completed” with the words: JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED. Indeed it has ….

All of her hard work, determination and perseverance has paid off. I present to you one of the hardest working students from the Class of 2015.

In your face pseudo Sarah!

In your face pseudo Sarah!

25 responses

  1. Methinks your daughter was fortunate to learn even more from her parents than from any of the schools she attended. Good for her, good for you! Congrats all around.

  2. Congratulations to her.

  3. Lisa, well done daughter (and mom, too). This article took me through many thoughts. Governance over any entity, whether it is a Charter, non-profit, or for profit school, is essential, as so much money flows through. When schools are more interested in revenue than teaching, that is a huge red flag.

    Your daughter has perservered and accomplished a big thing. It may not pay dividends immediately, but it will. Kudos to her and you for fighting a fight that is needed. Even if you rubbed folks the wrong way, it sounds like you were on the side of the Angels, so take some solace in that.

    Best wishes for the future. It is a bright one for her (and you). BTG

    1. Thank you so much for your well wished and kind words.
      Educational facilities should not be run by CEO’s and CFO’s making enormous salaries paid with tax payer funds. Here in Philadelphia our public schools are drastically failing due to lack of funding, while money is being pumped into these charters at a high rate of speed. The other thing that sickened me was finding out how many politicians “owned” these schools. No over site whatsoever!
      Some people really just can’t handle the truth!

  4. Awesome to you and your daughter. More people should have your tenacity when things don’t smell right.

    1. Thank you! Yes they should and they should never be afraid to ask questions. I came so far out of my comfort zone I didn’t even recognize myself.

  5. Your daughter was lucky to have you as her champion. Can you imagine what happens to children with less involved parents, or parents who accept the party line? Einstein had learning disabilities and look what happened there. Labeling for life is not the way to go. Woo hoo to you and your daughter for showing them!

    1. Oh Kate you are so right! What went down at this school, especially within the special education department was disgusting. We sent her to a private school for the remainder of her high school career and she just soared. No need to be living down to the low expectations of pseudo Sarah…ugh.

  6. Congratulations to you and your daughter for fighting and winning a hard fought battle.

  7. Geralyn chapuis | Reply

    I remember those days on the bus stop as the story was unfolding…. your frustration in trying to advance your daughter, your amazing detective skills uncovering questionable administration and board members, your never say die attitude reaching into the upper levels of government for help, your amazing confrontation with the school board where you tongued-tied the Principal in a crowd of school parents more than half of which did not support you……Kudos for never giving up on your daughter….for believing in her abilities….and Congratulations to your daughter for proving them wrong, you right and believing in herself!!!!!! So happy for all of you:-)

    1. Thank you Gerri! It’s still hard to believe at times. I remember being at your house when you broke the new about how Zac was being targeted … still gives me goosebumps.
      I actually had no idea that Emily was festering any feelings until she sent me that text that Justice had been served. I just broke into tears. Hope you and your family are well and of course laughing!

  8. Awesome — all around. Good for you to fight the fight, and good for her to persevere and succeed.

    1. Elyse I could have used you during that insanity. Corruption to the 10th power!

      1. Nah. Sounds like you did just fine.

  9. Sounds like there are a lot of congratulations to go around

  10. Amazing story! Good for you and your daughter. The corruption around us is mind-boggling and disgusting.

  11. This moved me to tears, Lisa. Congratulations to your beautiful, intelligent daughter for her accomplishment. So proud to call you my friend! xoxoM

  12. Jennifer Marko | Reply

    I had no idea you all went through this. I’d say I’m sorry you had to but you just kicked this trouble right in the ass the entire time and had that smile plastered to your face, as did Emily. An amazing woman leading by example to her amazing daughter!

  13. Tell your daughter… “CONGRATULATIONS!”… from me! That’s some story you just told, what a quest… you are to be commended for not laying down.

    p.s. remind me not to piss you off…

  14. I know you were the best mom….I just know it. You must be beaming even in your sleep. She’s lovely Top, and it’s hard to believe you even have a daughter that age since you look like a grad yourself. Now of course it’s Peanut’s turn to graduate. He’ll have to fetch his diploma of course, but he’ll do it with a great deal of class and charm. Congratulations.

  15. This is so, so great. My parents were also whistleblowers, at the forefront of the movement to provide public education for all students. Shunned no more, I hope. Many congratulations to your daughter, and to you. With you as an example, she can’t help but find a way to be fulfilled and have an impact on her world. Cheers —

    1. Thank you! Of course you had bad ass parents! Kudos to them for their efforts.

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