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We Moved for the Schools

Do we stay somewhere that has bad schools, no special education program but close to family? That was the question that haunted me for a complete 14 months. Yes, it took me 14 months to finally get the courage to disappoint my family by moving two and half hours away, but was the best decision for our kids. I'm sure some of you are saying family is more important but for me and my beliefs, my kids have and will always come first.

When Caden our oldest was ready for school we had moved to the small town of Somonauk, IL. Caden attended James R. Wood Elementary for his kindergarten year, but an unexpected loss of a job had us relocating up to Mchenry, IL. This area was close to all my family helping us get through the time until we were able to start working again. Caden started first grade at Johnsburg Elementary and one month into school, I can already see that Caden had already learned everything that was being taught. Asking the teacher if the first month was just a refresher from being off over the summer, but she unfortunately said no. The school ended up being an entire grade behind James R. Wood in Somonauk where Caden attended kindergarten. Realizing Caden is not going to learn anything this year because he had already learned it in kindergarten, the moving question began. "Was I depriving him of an education?" was the thought in my head.

Before packing up we needed to get all the information on the special education program offered. Conner would be starting kindergarten soon and it was important to us to make sure he was not going to be put in a separate class room, picked on, be left out of field trips and his needs would be able to be meet. Going to the school for information like this isn't always beneficial I found out. The school is going to tell you everything you want to hear, whereas the parents have first hand experience, usually resulting in the truth. Since we lived in Somonauk  for Caden's kindergarten year, I had already check into the program and spoke to a few parents of special needs children. 

It was very clear at Somonauk there was no divide, children were not separated to a different class room, there special needs program was well spoken about throughout the town and even the surrounding towns. Every child was able to attend field trips, and school concerts no matter there disability. If a child needed an aid, no problem an aid is given and stays with the child through the whole day and entire school years. At Johnsburg School District they have different choices. Any child listed with a IEP 402 was placed in a separate classroom, not included with the other children, no Aids were available for one on one if any at all and certain needs that needed to be meet would not be able to. There was this family we met that were relocated to the Johnsburg area from Michigan and had a son with Asperger. He was non vocal but functioned very well, the school was asked to provide a sign translator so that their son could attend the school and even with all the proper Doctor Documentation they were denied. The school offered them two options, first being he was placed in a special needs classroom were a computer would work as the translator for both the teacher and him or the second option was home school. With their son already attended a kindergarten with every other student with a sign translator they were not going to place in a separate class room. They choose to home school their son and I knew from that moment, we needed to move. 

Now came the guilt, how could we move two and half hours away after my family has been so supportive and the need to protect our kids giving them the best chance at life. There was no way we were going to allow Conner to be placed in a separate class room because his whole life we have taught him to embrace who he is, accept and don't ever use it as an excuse, as well as Caden deserves to be getting a better education that we already know exists. It was time to begin the process of moving. Finding jobs, a house in Somonauk and breaking the news to my family. Unfortunately my family has not forgiving me and currently haven't spoken to my sisters in 4 years and my parents every so many months. 

But as I look back, I wouldn't change the choice to move. Being a parent in general is a very complicated job adding in a child with special needs only complicates it more. We are our kids only advocates and sometimes the best choice for our kids isn't one everyone agrees with. We were told by the neurologist that Conner has Tourettes and Autism with social anxiety, ocd and non verbal when not with Mom or Dad. I knew that as his protector sending him to a school that isolates was never going to happen. Most families that have a child with Tourettes ended up home schooling because the schools could not accommodate their needs. 

Since moving back to Somonauk, Caden now 12 has been able to achieve above average testing scores, reads at a high school level he is in 7th grade, has really enjoyed STEM and was just awarded the Certificate of Recognizing the Bobcat Way! Conner now 9 has been able to have all needs met at school with no issues, now in 4th grade he has just tested way above average having him placed in IMSA classes and loves school! Cambree now 5 just started kindergarten and is already excelling at tremendous speed. Two months in and she can already read, count to 100 and more, add, subtract and has so many best friends already! School is a small part of your entire life but a critical one. Do you think we made the right decision? Comment Below

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