Special Ed Students used as Janitors

I can’t think of anything more immoral. What’s worse, the kids make even MORE fun of them as janitors. What’s EVEN worse is that the school’s administration sees NO PROBLEM with it AT ALL. They’re not even paying them, for god’s sake. I could say more… but… jesus… what’s the world coming to…

I feel as though I found a time machine. This is news? It was happening when I was in jr high in the late 60s.

This is very wrong. I have a special ed child and I am involved in his education developement. When life skills are taught, and it is including work skills, special ed students are to get an appropriate education. Some parts of janitorial work require professional skills and decision making that some students may not be able to do on their own. It can be hazardous as well. The article also stated that the son of the man who complained was told by his teachers that the janitorial staff really needed him. That was out of line in my opinion since some special ed students are very aware about the basic rule of not wanting to hurt others feelings and the teachers used that. If they could not locate any work sites off campus, they should have notified the parents and worked together to devise an alternative. That is a standard practice in creating and implementing an individual education plan.

Just a question, does “special ed” definately mean developmentally disabled (what used to be called mental retardation, I think)?

Or might it include non-mental handicaps as well such as deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy?

Not that it matters in the case of this story, which is appalling. Interestingly, I don’t see this story running in the Vancouver, Portland, or Seattle papers yet.

d’oh! It’s in the P.I. (as they say).


This happens all the time at my high school.

A trait apparently not shared by Mr. Finders in the CNN story – he says he learned of this in a “passing conversation.”

If there was an error and the school district did not get a permission slip from him, that should certainly be corrected. And if the school officials are in error that the permissions were routinely collected, that’s a pretty serious breach which may call for disciplinary action.

It seems to me like Messrs. Finders and Upjohn have a problem with janitorial work – it’s below their kids. I’d have to say I have more problems with their attitude towards cleaners than I do with the school district’s program.

Happened all the time at my HS also. The program is called “PAWS” here where I live, and the kids sometimes mow grass, as well as cafeteria work and sweeping the hallways, emptying trash, etc. The kids at my HS had to wear blaze orange vests while they did their work or whatever, and got picked on horribly.

They used to draft kids at my school for crap all the time. Picking up cigarette butts, cafeteria clean-up. I’m not talking about detention kids, I mean just “Hey, you in the hall. You on your way to class? No? Okay come with me.”.

If you don’t want your kid to do something the qualifies as a required class, find an alternative and get it approved. It may not be quick and easy, it may even be a psin in the ass to do. But a) such is the nature of the beast which is public education. I lettered in wrestling and die to a foul up almost did not graduate because they failed to give me a P.E. credit, I only found out in time to clear it up because I was sending my transcripts out to schools, and read “Will Not Graduate Due To Missing Credit Requirement” or something like that (actually my dad caught it and flipped out). 2) It’s your kid, it is worth the effort 3) Janitor is so bad? Descision making? How developmentally disabled are you talking about? Janitorial work is a basic repetitive task for 99% of those that do it, thats why janitors always have the best drugs ant any school. Many of them are on them.

Everyone wants their kid, no matter how disadvantaged either economically or mentally, or physically to have a great life and career. I’m sure my parenty wanted me to be a successful writer just like I have always wanted for myself. But that didn’t stop them from making sure I learned a trade that I could do for certain just in case I never became a writer.

Seems to me some janitorial training can not only help to socialize an adolescent with difficulties, but also help them learn to eventually better care for themselves on their own. Crap, I was forced to take shop classes. Okay, I can use a router. Yeah that comes in handy all the time. You know if I ever had wanted to learn how to use a table saw later in life I could have done so. Instead I’m jammed in to a class that I had very little interest in to satisfy a requirement people four generations removed from me thought was important.

Slow or bright kids are all put through the mill unless they have money enough to attend private schools, or live in a super progressive county.

As for kids making fun of the slow kids. Yeah it sucks, but it’s normal social interaction. Thats just how the little bastards are. You would think that a good student, on a team sport and good at it, decent looking kid (except for these horrible glasses I wore), who was friends with all kinds of other kids in all sorts of “cliques” would be immune to teasing compared to a disabled kid pushing a broom. Not so. I, just like every other teen, was hassled constantly by someone. It used to bug the crap out of me. But you get over it and you learn that it’s not all that bad when you get older. I’ts just being a kid.

Just always tell your kid how great they are and always be there for them. Those kids who shoot up schools get picked on the same as every other kid they just don’t have the kind of family support that the kids getting shot have. Well, except for the really genuinely crazy fuckos. But mostly I’m right.

I don’t see a problem with having them learn janitorial work, but they should come up with another place for them to do it. I can imagine the cruelty some of these kids have encountered.

zen101, your generalization really, really sucks. I went through the PUREST HELL for three years – middle school – I was the one that EVERYBODY harassed. Everything except being physically beaten, including sexual harassment though they didn’t call it that then. There is a vast difference between the sort of teasing you had and the sort of torment I and others on this board went through. Please note that there IS a difference.

Zen, pardon me, because I’m having a crappy day to begin with, but you lettered in wrestling? And you think you have a clue what life is like for people at the bottom of the pyramid?

I’ll admit, I also played sports and had a bunch of friends in high school, and I really thought that the crap I got was horrible-- I was smart, dorky, curvy and dating (oddly enough) the captain of the wrestling team, and the extra-mascara-wearing-size-zero crowd set out to ruin my life. It was rough, I tell you.

Then I watched my disabled little sister fight her way though high school. She has supportive parents, and a sister who (back when my user name was ZillahsGin) announced in a public forum her willingness to commit murder and/or anal rape with vegtables on her behalf. We do everything we can for her, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t come home and cry after school. I guaruntee you that if my co-workers treated me the way other students treat my sister (‘normal social interaction’), they’d be in jail right now.

Also, many public schools, including the one my sister attended when she was little, do not differentiate between children who are developmentally disabled, physically disabled, learning disabled, and emotionally disturbed. They’re all lumped under ‘special ed’.

My sister is lucky, in that she’s severly learning disabled, but possesing of a normal IQ. She’ll be able to learn a trade, and hopefully live on her own someday. (Maybe. She’s fairly socially stunted, but we’re hopefull)

Oddly enough, I agree that learning a skill like janitorial work would be a good idea-- but as someone said earlier, not at the school with other kids watching. My parents biggest complaint is my sister’s school’s obsession with the ‘white collar’ track. They scorn her desire to find a career option that doesn’t involve some sort of college.

When you have a disabled child, you learn to re-adjust your expectations. It’s painful, its awful, especially when your first child had it so easy. Maybe these parents haven’t gotten there yet, but I doubt it. Most likely they want their kids hang on to what dignity they can.

Absolutely. Look, you are right about a pyramid, but you are more right than you know. Flip a pyramid over and you go from top to bottom. It’s like that for kids and many adults. From moment to moment you are up and you are down. Any time you meet a new person as a child or encounter a new situation, the pressure on how you present yourself or react is constant. From within and without. You fear what others will think about how you act and you resent yourself for not doing it your own way or not being as “cool” as you want to be.

In some ways outcast kids escape some of this pressure because at some point they diverged significantly enough to not often have to respond to those social pressures. If you are a gay kid in high school, you are going to catch much shit but nobody is likely to notice if you layered your Izod shirts properly (really dating myself there). Given that example, you probably would have but that is beside the point. Outcasts are kind of ahead of the game in many ways as they usually learn to live for their own example. Most of the truly great achievers were outcasts.

Popular kids on the other hand, usually have many more social interactions. Many of them obligatory. I wrestled so I was somewhat coerced to run with a certain group, date from a specific set and behave in a certain way. But I liked new-wave and Goth and Punk, not RUN-DMC or LL Cool J, and I liked to skate. So the people I spent time with during the school year I did not spend time with during summer. I got pretty heavy flack from every group I associated with because none of them liked one another. The demands on me were incredibly stressful, to the point I injured myself repeatedly and over a long period of time both by starvation dieting and later steroid abuse. Chronic spastic colon (unpleasant) and set the stage for two bleeding ulcers and a little drinking issue in my early 20’s. The demands on “popular” kids are probably greater than on subsects or loners, but the support group is larger and there is usually more positive adult attention.

Certainly this is a subjective argument. I think it’s fair that you argue my point, but I do ask that you consider I do not think that all abuse fits into my generalization. But I will say that popular kids suffer sexual and other forms of physical abuse in probably the same numbers as any other group of kids. Also look at teen suicide rates and I think you will see that they are pretty uniform.

My son has a severe developmental delay and my goal for him is definitely to learn some life skills. The school he’ll go to next year is largely community based including a paper route, shovelling snow, for those who can do it as well as a number of other things.

His current teacher believes that life skills should mostly be taught at home, something I totally disagree with. But, wonder child is involved in the recycling program, where he’s matched up with a student from the regular program and on a rotating basis, they pick up the items in each class recycle bin.

I don’t find this demeaning because he’s teamed up and he’s having a different kind of social interaction than he has in his class. However, I would be screaming my head off if he was marched in front of everyone doing these things because he was the “retarded” kid.

One of the best things about having special needs kid’s classes in a regular school setting is that they have behaviours to model and by matching them up with buddies, it also gives them a sense of feeling part of the (for lack of a better word) “normal” atmosphere.

Something that people should remember also is that while math is a life skill for your child, day to day living activities are a life skill for mine. He’s never going to learn math, but he has the ability to live a healthy and whole life and at the end of the day feel like he’s accomplished something and feel good about that accomplishment. Basically, the same kind of hope every parent has for their child with just a different set of borders.

The bigger problem with this is the administration sees nothing wrong with it.

I’m surprised they don’t use college prep/honors students as janitors instead. (“Yeah, it’s community service! Looks good on the college applications!”)

After all, don’t most young people spend at least a few years doing low-skill jobs anyway? Shouldn’t all kids be learning about pushing brooms and sorting garbage?

The special ed kids are put to work at my HS as well. In each class, we have recycling containers. These kids come by and empty them. Once I was told not to crumple a paper before tossing it in there, because the (what’s the euphemism?) kids have to go through and uncrumple them. They’re underfunded (we all are,) and they make money for their department through the recycling. I remember seeing them cleaning the cafeteria and such, but I don’t haven’t seen them doing any of that this year.


under the heading “The Great Servers”


under the heading “The Great Servers”

I actually do think that’s very true-- to a certain point. I find that people who go through life with no adversity have very little character, and come across as shallow and selfish. I appologize for the generalization, but it’s been my experience that men who have always been good looking and popular are assholes. Women are no better.

BUT, I think the outcasts we are talking about in this instance are people like my best friend: smart, creative, misunderstood, but able to find others like her and ride out the storm. She’s a writer-- her book would certainly never get out of the slush pile if all the life experience she could bring was about how hard it is to find the right shade of lipstick.

I think disabled students are at a different level of outcast. My sister, for example, lacks the ability to read facial expressions or vocal inflections. She takes words at literal value. She doesn’t get jokes or sarcasm. When people are laughing at her or mocking her, she doesn’t even realize it. So the other children have to be deliberatly mean to her-- and they are, because they don’t get a reaction any other way. She’s not learning anything about social interaction-- because she can’t. She only learns that it’s a cruel world. Maybe that’s a lesson she needs to learn-- but god damn it, if I ever get my hands on her ‘teachers’ they’ll wish they were never born.

Also, I never really thought about the pressures popular people are under. My high school boyfriend alternatly binged and starved himslef (uncluding running in a rubber suit) to make weight, so when I think about it, your digestive issues don’t surprise me at all. Sometimes I think he dated me because i finished his plate in resteraunts. If I were one of the cool girls, subsisting on gum and diet coke, I suppose I’d have hated the real Obsidian, blithly eating corndogs at the school carnival and not caring if she had to undo the top button of her pants that night. But fear of excommunication and a long fall down to Judas’s block of ice would have certainly kept me hungry and giving out blowjobs to football players.

A few other people have pointed this out but I wanted to reiterate something. Besides the social damage it does and the teasing they will get this sort of work can be dangerous.

In my middle school it was the smart kids who had to do the janitor’s jobs. If you finished a test early you were sent out to do menial tasks. I don’t know if they assumed those who finished first were faking or goofing off and this was their passive agressive punishment but this was the deal. I always finished my tests early so I was always sent out to do something. One day I was told to stand on a desk and take down pictures that had been pinned up in the hallway. Halfway through the task the desk (not meant to be stood on) collapsed sending me to the floor, landing on the cup of pushpins, breaking it. I ended up with a bruise that took up the length of my calf with little red dots in it from the pins. I still have a few tiny scars from it. I was very lucky I didn’t cut myself on the broken cup. I was never sent to do such jobs again, nor was anyone else in my class. But I was treated as if the injury was my fault, even though they were the ones who had told me to use the desk instead of finding me a ladder or step stool.

Janitorial work is dangerous that’s why adults do it. Learning life skills is fine and I am behind work study programs for all children who want to learn such skills. But they should be very carefully monitored. They had these kids looking through trash? There could be any number of things in there they shouldn’t be handling, including broken bottles, metal and other sharp objects. Children should be in shcool to learn, not to do other people’s jobs.