Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Diane Lipton

Audio transcript: On advocating for daughter with disability within the school system
Date: May 25, 2001
Interviewer: Denise Sherer Jacobson

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

Well, at first I think I felt grateful that there was a school there for her at all. It didn't really occur to me until she was about five or six years old. I didn't really question this separation until she was about five or six. But between three and five, we had a number of other problems with the school and we started doing advocacy. Like the school day was shorter for our kids then the district-run program for three- to five year olds. Regular kids. Actually, it was up to age seven or eight that the school day was shorter for the disabled kids. That didn't make any sense to us, because they seemed to us, they needed more help, not less help. And so that was—

Did they give you a reason for that?

No. Because this was really, I'm trying to think, this was right when the federal law was passed in '75. There weren't regulations for it until '77. I think the school district, at that time, didn't think there was anything they were supposed to be doing. So their attitude was that we should be grateful for what they are providing, and they're doing the best they can. That was totally their attitude. And myself and a couple of the other parents had some feeling that this was some kind of discrimination because why should the kids get a different school day as everyone else. But we didn't know about the law.

We did go to Sacramento, actually, not having a clue what we were doing. We just thought, this is not right. Also the principal was a very difficult, unpleasant person, and no one liked her. There were other kinds of issues, but that was one of the big ones. So, immediately I became kind of a troublemaker at the school. With Pam Steneberg, whose daughter went there, too, and a couple of the other parents. We got into arguments with the principal all the time.

We'd go to Sacramento and ask—we didn't even—I don't know how we even knew who to call or meet with, but we would go and find someone in the Department of Education and talk to them. Some of the things changed, actually, as a result of that.

End of transcript

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