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Teen With Cerebral Palsy Given Detention After Swearing At Gym Teacher Who Tried To Make Her Climb Wall

Jesse Orrico/Unsplash

Disabilities can be difficult to understand for those who don’t deal with them directly.

But for one mom on Reddit whose daughter has cerebral palsy, this disconnect resulted in a shockingly ableist situation at her daughter’s school that would be grounds for a lawsuit in many countries.

She wasn’t sure about how she handled the situation, so she went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the username TA_AITA_BadMum on the site, asked:

“AITA for refusing to let my daughter do an after school detention and threatening to pick her up?”

She explained:

“My daughter Amanda (F[emale]13) has Cerebral Palsy.”

“She is able to walk independently but cannot walk for long periods of time and cannot walk on anything other than even ground without assistance (i.e stairs have to have rails, can’t walk on rocks/sand/etc).”

“She has an IEP for this – that states what she can and cannot do in PE, excursions, etc.”

“It’s relevant to note that Amanda catches the bus home – but can only catch a specific route as the other route the school offers drops her off at a road about a mile away that has no footpath.”

“I got a call at work at 11am today telling me that Amanda had spoken quite rudely to a substitute PE (gym) teacher who tried to make her climb the rock wall that her school has.”

“Apparently Amanda did say ‘I can’t, I have Cerebral Palsy and I have an IEP’ but when another child said ‘Yeah! Same here!’ the teacher didn’t believe her and became insistent – standing over her so Amanda told him to ‘fu*k off’ and wouldn’t repeat anything but ‘fu*k off’ until she was sent to the office.”

“It is in the handbook that this type of offence is a same day after school detention. But when the Principal called me I said ‘absolutely not’.”

“I told them that they were welcome to do a weeks worth of lunch detentions, or even schedule it so that I can change my work schedule – but absolutely not this afternoon.”

“My husband is away for work, I have to work until 6pm and I need Amanda to be on her regular bus because I have nobody who can drop her off home at 4:30 when detention finishes.”

“They told me about the ‘late’ bus and I reminded them why Amanda couldn’t take that bus and was told ‘well, sounds like a natural consequence to me’.”

“This isn’t your average kid refusing to do something, being rude and deserving a long walk home as well as detention.”

“This is a kid that could be seriously harmed if she was made to walk that far and on that road.”

“The Principal told me that I was ‘making excuses’ and that Amanda needed to face consequences and I didn’t technically need to give permission – they were making me aware.”

“I agree that Amanda needs to face consequences for her language (which are that she’s grounded for the weekend, and has to serve any lunch detention the school gives her and apologising to the teacher for specifically her language – nothing else) – but putting her in danger is NOT right and that if they were insistent on this – I was insistent on taking my lunch break right now to drive over and pull her out for the rest of the day.”

“(EDIT: The school called back and said she had 2 days of lunch detention – but my sister who lives interstate thinks I’m being one of ‘those’ mums and told me I was in the wrong, hence posting)”

“AITA?”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And as you might assume, they were as heated about this situation as OP was and were firmly on her and her daughter’s side.

“AMANDA, I NEED YOU TO KNOW HOW PROUD OF YOU I AM – Fellow disabled person on the internet who has had me share of ableist abuse and refuses to take it.”

“Your child was absolutely not in his wrong for standing up to an adult male authority figure who was using physically threatening posturing to force compliance..”

“AFTER he ignored his LEGAL OBLIGATION TO UPHOLD HER MEDICALLY NECESSARY ACCOMMODATIONS.”

“This teacher is the one who needs disciplined.”

“He is unfit to perform the duties of his job.”

“Your child was forced to act as an adult advocate when she was stripped of her right to accommodations.”

“She stood up to physically aggressive posturing and verbal threats. She first made her medical accommodation needs clear, and he ignored her.”

“Then he escalated. And he continued to escalate the situation.”

“WHY IN THE FU*K DID THE SCHOOL NOT PROVIDE HIM WITH THE CLASS ROSTER SO HE WOULD ALREADY HAVE THE INFORMATION NEEDED TO PERFORM THE DUTIES OF HIS JOB?!”

“WHY IN THE FU*K IS A LITTLE GIRL MADE RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCING HER MEDICAL ACCOMMODATION AT SCHOOL?”

“No no no no no NO. There are instances in which telling someone to fu*k off. Repeatedly. Is necessary. This is one of those instances.”

“This needs to be escalated, immediately.”

“Because your child should NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES been put in a position where she was forced to stand up to ableist abuse and threatening behaviour from a staff member.”

“Your kid got forced into a corner, and they fought their way out.”

“This is one of those instances where punishing her teachers her to accept abuse, and that she’s not allowed to self advocate or stand up to someone’s threats.”

“Anyone saying you’re being ‘one of those parents’ is an ableist pile of waste. You are NTA and neither is your kid. I’m fu*king proud of her.”

“And I’m here to tell the gym teacher, and every staff member who made this mess to fu*k off right along with her.”

“Edit: I’m fuming. I see the typos. don’t care. Y’all can extrapolate from borked data.”

“Edit: edit: yep, so fuming I just accidentally commented that instead of actually editing my comment, then deleted it.”

“Because holy FU*K ableism is violence and should be met with proportionate pushback, which this kid did.”

“EDIT: EDIT: EDIT: Thank you all for the awards!”

“Amanda is a rockstar and it makes me so fu*king happy to see all of y’all supporting her extremely appropriate response to ableist violence.”

“Fu*k. The world needs more kids like her; but when the freedom to use her fireceness for whatever the fu*k interests her, not because she’s forced to defend herself.” –CatteHerder

“As a fellow disabled person, I second this. I was so afraid of getting in trouble if my accommodations weren’t honored I’d injure myself sometimes trying to keep up.”

“Until the ‘bad’ girls stuck up for me and said just don’t dress out on substitute days, like them, the subs just rolled their eyes and either let them walk the track or work on homework.”

“I shouldn’t have needed them to tell me that, I should’ve been like Amanda and told the subs to ‘fu*k off.'”

“And let it go back to my parents and guidance counselor to yell about my IEP with me.”

“Amanda rocks!!!” –CocklesTurnip

“I agree totally and utterly and completely.”

“My step-brother is high-functioning autistic and has our country’s version of an IEP that was set up with his school when he started there.”

“The person who handles his ‘case’ at his school has changed over the years, but they have always made sure that all his different teachers and the admin staff all know everything in his file.”

“It took my brother and the school a bit of time to work out what triggers he may have and how they could best handle them – but the school was always patient and worked with him and his mum to make sure he was coping and comfortable, and instead of punishment if he had a meltdown or lashed out verbally (never physically), they focused on de-escalation and discussion.”

“We have been lucky that his school has taken the time to educate themselves on how to work with autistic children and unfortunately, alot of kids end up in situations like OP’s.”

“It just makes me so mad cos there are so many ways the situation could’ve been completely avoided, or at least de-esculated by the school.”

“To punish this poor child, who was trying to advocate for herself against an adult she didn’t know who didn’t want to listen – it’s beyond fu*ked up and honestly, OP should be lawyering up STAT.”

“Her daughter could’ve been severely hurt in that PE class, not to mention what could’ve happened if she’d missed her bus.”

“I’m just glad to know OP’s daughter has a parent who will stand up for her daughter, like my brother has with his mum.” –imamage_fightme

After reading her fellow Redditors’ responses, OP came back to add an update.

“Edit to update: I have since ungrounded Amanda and apologised and told her that I acted irrationally out of stress and anger at the school in the situation.”

“I also told her it’s up to her regarding the apology.”

Hopefully OP’s daughter’s school can learn from this how to better accommodate disabled students’ needs.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.