I am writing in regards to the article about Gretchen Wahle ("Justin-Siena student finds her own path at Napa school," Nov. 20). I am very happy that Gretchen has found her enrollment rewarding. However, I must question the overall tone of the article and the purported success of Justin-Siena.
It is absolutely baffling to me how Justin-Siena can be congratulated on admitting its first disabled student about 20 years behind the rest of the modern world. The article goes on to illustrate how wildly unprepared they are to properly address the needs of a student with disabilities: Dealing with Gretchen calls for "out of the box thinking," humor and patience? Counselor Jill Sinclair talks about her like some kind of quirky dog.
No, Ms. Sinclair - dealing with Gretchen calls for special education training. The modern world has understood for decades how to address a variety of disabilities in education, and it's far past time for Justin-Siena to catch up. There are professionals who specifically obtained degrees in teaching students like Gretchen. There are paid teaching professionals right on Justin-Siena's own campus.
But, instead of entrusting her care to trained professionals who understand her needs, the school has asked for students to volunteer. What does it say about a school who values their only disabled student so little that they entrust her care to a gaggle of 16-year-olds? Why should we congratulate a school that is so ill-prepared to address the needs of the first disabled student they have admitted far past the deadline for this to be considered progressive?