As New York City began its rise into the defacto capital of the United States, people who lived and worked there needed a place to blow off steam and to flaunt their wealth, thus the birth of The Hamptons. On a small section land approximately 3 hours East of New York City you will find a society few get to really experience to its fullest, a society filled with money, privilege, fame, and beauty to name a few. A society that due to its exclusive clientele, has relished their secrets and thrived in a somewhat incestual society that has been unwelcome to outsiders and anyone not wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants along with white shoes sans socks. Well now there is one more class of people we can add to the list that The Hamptons wants to keep out…kids with Down Syndrome.
The Westhampton Beach School District made headlines this morning when it became public that they are attempting to keep 12 year old Aiden Killoran from entering their school this fall due to the fact that he has down syndrome. Christian Killoran has said that he wants his son to attend the same middle school as his friends and his siblings but the school district refuses to let Aiden in. In a move that I applaud, Christian is planning to show up on the first day of school even though the district has said they will not let his son in. Shades of Alabama circa 1963 anyone?? I think we all know how that ended. Apparently folks out East are kinda slow learners.
The district is saying that they “don’t have the programming to teach Aiden”, and so instead of getting or developing such programming they are telling the family to go to another school. They kind of have a point, I mean why would a school want to develop programming to actually teach kids? It’s way more fun to shove the problem off on someone else for them to deal with. Leave no child behind! In a letter written by Suzanne Mensch (who is the president of the Westhampton Beach Board of Education), she wrote that she was “extremely disheartened by the Killoran family’s repeated public efforts to bully the Westhampton Beach School District into developing an educational program for their son” and also later said that “as a parent I continue to be disappointed in the Killoran’s unwillingness to be completely honest about their situation.” I wonder what situation she is referring to, could it perhaps be the situation where a parent has a child and they are looking to get the best possible education for their child? Could it be the situation where a parent is looking to have their child go to a school where most of the child’s friends will be attending? Could it be the situation where a parent wants to try to send the message to their child that they are no different than any other student? What message are you referring to Suzanne? Please elaborate. I can’t believe she is a parent and actually said that.
Little Aiden has already beaten the system once when he became the first student with down syndrome to graduate from his elementary school, so why not give him a shot at middle school. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a soft spot in my heart for kids with down syndrome and if you read my post Tim’s Place about a restaurant in New Mexico that was opened and currently run by a man with down syndrome, then you know that people who have down syndrome are capable of doing incredible things when they put their minds to it, and when they are supported by their family and their community.
As I read that article today on ABC News’ website, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I can’t see anything other than plain discrimination in this and for the school district to go so far as to apply for a restraining order to block a kid from going to school is completely appalling to me. We have fallen so far as a society I sometimes wonder if it is even possible for us to recover. The lengths and measures that some people will go to in an effort to make a point continues to amaze me. It’s sad that again a child will be placed in the middle of bureaucrats and their bull shit yet again. Why the school wouldn’t want to admit Aiden, teach him and see him graduate, then make positive headlines for successfully teaching and graduating their first ever down syndrome student baffles me. Probably because to admit him and to develop that program would cost the taxpayers a little extra money. The taxpayers of arguably one of the most affluent towns on both Long Island but also in the U.S. mind you.
So I ask you, what’s not to love about The Hamptons?