Dear Colorado Governor Jared Polis,
This Rocky Mountain PBS
video highlights two of our children who have so far survived unrelenting discrimination and retaliation against themselves by our Colorado human services agencies. I have a question for you. Do you really think that disabled children should be required to hire lawyers to sue their school district or access their rights to vocational rehabilitation or healthcare? Because that is the reality of their situation and any other child like them in our state right now. I wish that was not the standard advice you and your government officials are giving to parents of children with disabilities, but I do know that it actually is. That’s wrong.
These children shared their suicide stories last year. It’s been a really tough year since their story aired. They have spent this last year of their childhood fighting through the awful red tape of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, which was supposed to be assisting them with their vocational rehabilitation, and Colorado Access, which is supposed to be providing them with the healthcare they require to recover from the trauma they have endured in public schools. Instead, these systems have hassled them and dropped them out, just like our public schools.
It makes me feel ashamed to be a Colorado citizen and it makes me feel sick for all of our children. I hope that our State of Colorado officials will start to do their jobs with some compassion and operate our Colorado systems with some ethics and humanity because they are hurting children. I knew that already as a consulting expert for your Colorado Department of Education, but it is far worse than I understood. I don’t believe that disabled children should all have to hire legal counsel to be able to go to school or work. I don’t think that parents should have to quit working to personally educate, rehabilitate, and advocate for their children themselves. Do you?
I hope you will watch their stories. You are responsible for them as much as I am. I hope we can get them the support they are entitled to receive right now. They need all of it and much more. These systems are crushing their young spirits.
Lisa A. Weiss, J.D.
Colorado Parent, Educator, and Community Partner