Michigan mother Erin Lee feels like she is fighting a never-ending battle with the state of Michigan.
Her family’s troubles started in 2012 when their apartment burned down. Investigators first suspected her 11-year-old son Collyn started the fire. He was questioned extensively by police before officials determined an electrical fire in the wall was to blame. Lee’s family had to relocate, which of course meant her children had to attend new schools.
Young Collyn had a rough time adjusting to his new school. He has been treated for a mood disorder and ADHD for years, and requires special attention in class. The process of getting him an individualized education plan (IEP) took months, and in the meantime Collyn was struggling to behave in the classroom.
Problems ensued. He was sent home from school at least 20 times over a six month span from December 2012 - June 2013. Each time Collyn was sent home, Lee had to drop what she was doing – even if she was at work -- and pick him up. She was frustrated by the school’s failure to find ways to discipline Collyn other than sending him home.
Collyn finally got his IEP in May. Days later, he was involved in an incident with a teacher at his school. The teacher allegedly picked him up and carried him by his arm before dropping him to the ground and saying “I don’t have to deal with this.”
A law enforcement liaison to the school asked to speak with Collyn following the incident. Lee agreed, but warned the liaison that Collyn was nervous about speaking with the police ever since he was questioned by them following the apartment fire.
Collyn had a mental meltdown during the interview. The liaison responded to his breakdown by taking a drastic measure. Collyn, just 10-years-old at the time, was charged with disrupting the public. Prosecuting attorneys said the charge would help Collyn get his IEP, failing to realize he already had one.
“They filed charges against a 10-year-old boy,” Lee told Opposing Views. “That’s drastic. I don’t see how that would help him. All of this is still on his record.”
Lee’s struggles don’t end there. She was called to pick Collyn up from school on yet another day on which administrators decided to send him home. Unlike so many times before, Lee wasn’t able to make it to his school that day. But instead of simply watching Collyn until the end of the day, the school called Michigan Child Protective Services and reported the incident. The school said Lee refused to pick her son up.
Lee was placed on the Michigan CPS neglectful parents list following the report. She was stunned.
“The school wanted me to come pick him up every time he had even the slightest meltdown,” she said. “Their answer was always to send him home, which just enables his behavior. [On that day] I told them I didn’t have a way to come and get him. They called CPS and said I refuse to come get him. Now I’m on the registry list for neglectful parents in Michigan.”
The move feels like an insult to the mother who has been struggling for years to get her son help in school.
“There’s no reason CPS should be telling me I’m negligent,” she said. “I’ve been the one trying to get him taken care of. I’ve been fighting so hard, for so long, to get him the help he needs.”