Monday, August 29, 2005 at 04:53 PM

A sheet of paper, along with partial copies of old court case, was circulated in some places in McCook County recently said:

“Information concerning lawsuit by M.E. Barwacz against the Michigan Department of Education in the late 80’s to pay for her daughter’s transportation to & from school. She was already getting EVERYTHING free but she wasn’t satisfied with that. Did you know that her daughter is now in an institution out of state? Sometime this summer she couldn’t take all this BS anymore so they (mother & husband) didn’t want to deal with it.”

This was definitely a sucker punch. We are disappointed and shocked by the nature of the attack.

My wife has been struggling with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder for quite some time now, and this year has been especially difficult and challenging for us as a family. There is no mental health facility in South Dakota that is accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. After some struggle in getting the services we needed in South Dakota, Jen and I both decided that her needs would be met by a highly acclaimed, and thus far world’s first and ONLY residential mental health facility designed for deaf and hard of hearing people at National Deaf Academy in Mount Dora, Florida. Many of the professional staff there are deaf and sign fluently, eliminating the need for interpreters.

It was there where my wife received accurate diagnosis within matter of weeks, something the area doctors, psychiatrists and therapists could not in years. This was simply because the communcation there was direct.

Her stay there was tremendously benefical, and the irony was that she was physically farther away from us, but she was close to us and our family because of low-cost videoconferencing capability made possible by D-Link i-2-eye. We were able to communicate face to face often.

She’s now home with us, and we are thrilled to be together again. The road ahead of us is still difficult. We’re so grateful for our neighbors and supporters sharing their kind words of encouragement and love.

As for the court case, M.E. filed a lawsuit against the local school district because she knew there were other families who would not be able to afford the cost of flights. Model Secondary School for the Deaf at Washington, D.C. was the largest high school program for deaf and hard of hearing kids in the country with over 400 kids in enrollment then. [Today its a bit over 200]. The local school programs and state school for the deaf did not really provide good — or even “acceptable” education, in our opinion, and their only viable option was the school in Washington, D.C. The judge wholeheartedly agreed with M.E. on the placement for the school, but he was unable to rule in her favor.

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