Dear Mr. X,
Thank you for meeting with me last Friday. I had come with so many things to say about Daniel and why we believed your school was the right place for him to continue his journey. I said nothing because your decision had already been made. I have tried to understand your reasons.
But it is wrong that you made your decision to reject a child—who was desperately banging on your doors—based on his disability. It is wrong that you didn’t take the time to meet with him, even after dozens of people wrote to you about what a remarkable person Daniel is. It is wrong that you based your decision on scores and numbers, and wrong that, whatever the context, you found it appropriate to tell me in a meeting about why you were rejecting my son that you “don’t see kids like him,” and that some people think “there are too many big brown boys here.”
I, too, was wrong. Daniel has made the strides he has for two important reasons. First, he has been blessed to meet remarkable people who have chosen to take chances, sometimes great risks, to help him thrive. Second, he has always resolved to far surpass the limited expectations some people have had of him, including those who told us he would never speak. He will surpass yours—because he is not a number, nor a sum of his testing scores. He is a complex, profound, remarkable human being, whom it should be an exciting, rewarding challenge to teach. I was wrong to think your school was the kind of place that would embrace my son for all that he is—you needed only the right disability and the right scoring range.
You held in your hands the power to help a child rise after years of suffering. You also had the power to give all the people who wrote on Daniel’s behalf the hope that miracles are possible where there is love and unity. Instead, you studied a spreadsheet on the train ride to the City, and wondered “how to make the numbers fit.”
Maryam Dilakian Passley