Posts Tagged ‘A Person’s a Person’




Tipping Points

Filed under: Community, Pondering, Writing

As I’ve been following the good, bad and ugly at my children’s former school district (lots of families feeling ambushed with an unwelcome and unorganized redistricting) I recently came across a few conversations where one group of people were having a violently strong reaction to ANOTHER negative thing happening in the district. But within these conversations there was debate, a bit of a clash on how this new problem should be emotionally and physically handled.

As someone who is no longer ankle deep in the WCSD do-do, I can absolutely understand the calmer heads who are trying to stay logical and grounded. But as someone who’s had this same school district pile negative things on top of me faster than I could push them off, I also feel a huge amount of sympathy for those who are hurt, frustrated and angry. *A Person’s a Person No Matter How Small In fact, I feel a little bit nuts in my ability to relate to the wide range of emotions people are feeling.

But to step outside of THIS particular situation, the whole thing has gotten me thinking about why some people are filled with an inferno of need to right wrongs. And why some people have the ability to roll over any ups and downs with little to no resistance. I think there are a zillion factors that play into this–especially individual personalities. But one thing that resonates with me is that each person has a TIPPING POINT. I think of this as the spot when everything changes. A tipping point might happen when someone has been asked to carry too much and the weight of a dust bunny might be enough to push them to fight.

But a tipping point can also be something that flips a person into a state of understanding, acceptance or perhaps defeat and exhaustion.  As I said, I’m a bit familiar with both kinds of tips *Entangled Roots

Ultimately, it’s complicated. And while tipping points in real life are so stressful, we don’t want to be caught up in the middle of them on a regular basis, as a writer, we want LOTS of tipping points. It’s important for us to digest what we’ve experienced, so we can call upon it later to write relatable words that make people feels real emotions. We want to study other people’s tipping points and add what we’ve learned from them to our writing.

True story–no one wants to see a character that doesn’t struggle and grow. No one falls in love with a book where nothing ever happens.

As you observe yourself growing and changing and you see the people tipping around you, remember it’s more important to call on the universal feelings than the particular details. For me, surviving the WCSD has been a study in tipping points. What tipping points have informed your writing?

PS–sending all my love to my WCSD peeps. I’ve always got you on my mind. <3


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I WILL Kick Elephant Butt

Filed under: Blogging, Family, Pondering, Writing

If you normally follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging recently. And most likely you know the reason. But I’m not going to assume you do, so if you’d like to read my last blog post before my blogging draught you can find it here–A Person’s a Person No Matter How Small: An Open Letter to the Wappingers Central School District.

There are a lot of reasons why I’ve been stuck trying to write a new post…

*That last post was the most important thing I had to say. It was epic.

*I’ve been busy supporting my kids through the ups and downs of this experience.

*I’ve been insanely angry–so much so–I have yet to figure out what to productively do with those feelings.

*I’ve been processing, growing, and trying to be the best version of myself right now. It’s taken a lot of energy. Growing is hard.

*I’ve had a cold–still sniffling.

*And I’ve been sad. I have not had the liberty to languish in that sadness in front of my children, because I’ve had to don my super hero cape, even when it felt like fraud. So the sad has infiltrated my words more than it has anywhere else in my life. And more than anything, what I want to write about on this blog is my heartbreak and my feelings, but it’s not the right place for that at the moment. In time, that emotion will bleed into my books, where it belongs.

But that has left me with little to say in this space as I curl up and lick my wounds.



So I planned to just JUMP IN and write my conference blog today. I was going to leap back in, cold turkey, but pictures wouldn’t load and all kinds of other technical crap held me up. Then I realized what I really needed was to write about why I couldn’t write. Address the elephant in the room. “Hello, Elephant.”

Not as easy as it sounds, I’ve been staring at that pachyderm all morning with very little success–but sometimes the act of butt-in-chair and fingers in motion is how you get started when you don’t have the words. The day’s not over yet. I’m getting there–the right words will come.

And I will kick elephant butt.

It’s what I do.



*No elephants or their butts were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Back on Tuesday with a #NY14SCBWI conference recap.

And thank you for…everything. I mean it–you don’t know what your support means to me. (((((hugs))))))



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A Person’s a Person No Matter How Small: An Open Letter to the Wappingers Central School District

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Family, In the Wild, Pondering

I’ve had a very upsetting week. Rather than repeat myself, the letter I’ve written below is the best way to start. So let’s jump in…

An Open Letter to the Wappingers Central School District:


In today’s complicated real estate market, trying to time a move to a new home, with children and their schooling, is enough to give a parent premature grey hair. Wait too long and you lose the house. Move before the school year is over and you must make complicated arrangements to accommodate their education. My husband and I recently found ourselves in just such a predicament. We handled it the way we were raised—honestly and believing that educators put the needs of children above all else.


I am very disappointed we were so naïve and trusting in this process. I am ashamed to say that after the nightmare of the last two days, if I could do it all over again, I would take a less than honorable approach to my interactions with the Wappingers Central School District. Despite the example I have set for my children, WCSD has taught my sons that honesty is not rewarded and deception is.


To make a long story shorter, I was transparent with WCSD about my move and my request for my two children to remain in their elementary school until the end of the year. In my written request to Jose Carrion, Assistant Superintendent for Administration, I laid out my children’s needs, particularly that of my 10-year-old son, who is a graduating 5th grader at Fishkill Elementary. He has been a Fishkill Frog since kindergarten and as a family we have deeply invested ourselves in the school community. But our situation goes beyond the normal emotional attachments, although in my opinion, that alone should be enough of a reason to treat a family with compassion.


My son is also a special needs student with an IEP for reading and writing challenges and quite frankly, this year’s implementation of the Core Curriculum has thrown him for a loop. It has taken him until just recently to find the right balance of support and accommodations to start being more successful at school. In the last three weeks I have seen a tremendous change in his work ethic and his small successes have led to pride and more academic growth. His self-esteem has reached an all time high and he was on track to finish this year as a proud graduate. In reaching out to Mr. Carrion, my primary concern was that no matter how wonderful the new school he’ll be attending, I am convinced that he will suffer tremendously by making a change at such a late date in the school year. I am very concerned, with testing requirements and core curriculum demands, that he will loose ground, do poorly on his mandatory exams and take a huge hit in his budding confidence.


Everything fell apart on Tuesday morning, February 11, 2014. Quite by accident, I discovered my children were being kicked out of the district. Thursday, February 13, 2014 would be their last day and we were anticipating a snow day. So, in actuality, the very next day would be their last and they had no idea. I am still in shock about how this was handled. As I write this, I have yet to receive any official paperwork from the district on this matter. At my request, a district secretary was at least able to extend the boy’s last day to Friday February 21, 2014.


Tuesday morning, in a panic, I immediately called the office of the Superintendent and after several hours of no response I called again. I was told that Mr. Carrion’s office would be contacting me. After still no response, I went to the Administrative offices to speak to Mr. Carrion or the Superintendent directly. I offered to wait in the lobby from 12:30 to 3:00, the time I needed to leave to pick up my children, but I was told no one was available. I was offered a 2pm appointment with Mr. Carrion the next day. I was also advised that my appointment would be a face-to-face delivery of the same disappointing news.


Sick to my stomach, I then headed over to the school to pick up my boys and break the news to them. It is an understatement to say that my 5th grader was wrecked. He was almost inconsolable, but he knew I had an appointment the next day with Mr. Carrion. Unfortunately, he viewed Mr. Carrion as an extension of the men and women he’s familiar with at Fishkill Elementary—adults who might not be able to fix everything– but who always took a personal interest in him. Someone he could trust. My child was hopeful he’d be able to stay for the remaining couple months of school.


My 2:00 pm meeting with Mr. Carrion has ignited a flame of fury in my gut. While I will admit that Mr. Carrion had a smile on his face, I will also tell you it was a smug one. He intimated that my persistence in trying to get an appointment to see him was excessive. In my opinion, he took great pleasure in his ability to “put me in my place” as he laid the highlighted district policy out before me. I was told I could take it to any lawyer I wanted and it would hold up in court. What I wasn’t told was how sorry he was that the school policy didn’t allow for exceptions to the rule. He also never asked how my children were doing. He wasn’t kind or sympathetic. I felt like he thought I was someone he had to “deal with.” And despite having sent him a personal request, he never spoke with the principal, teachers or school psychologist at Fishkill Elementary. We were rubber-stamped. The conclusion I’ve arrive at from our meeting–he has absolutely no interest in my child as a person. Instead, all of his energy was directed at proving me wrong. What is an administrator like that doing involved with the education of children and the parent relations that accompany it?


I would also like to point out that Mr. Carrion went on the record confirming that never in the history of the district has there ever been an exception made to this out-of-district-policy–and there never would be. When I asked about the fate of graduating high school seniors, who find themselves in a similar predicament, his response was an almost gleeful—“They move.” And while this may very well be the sad legacy of the WCSD, I personally find it a bit horrifying. Most school districts do not do this to their children. They allow decisions to be made at the discretion of those in positions of authority.


I would also like to point out that I personally feel betrayed by the district. My husband and I have gone above and beyond when it comes to my 13-year-old son who is dyslexic and has been attending the private school since 4th grade. We did not seek out the services of a lawyer to battle the district for his tuition. Being a former special education teacher, I believe we had more than a leg to stand. And while I cannot predict if we would have won, I can assure you we would have tied the district up in enormous legal fees for a very long time. I never wanted to do that. I’ve always felt education money should be focused on children. Additionally, I never wanted there to be a single instance where the teachers or administration of the Fishkill Elementary School felt their care and dedication to my son, hadn’t been appreciated by our family. It was never from a lack of effort or love that they were not able to meet his educational needs. They still remain supportive of him today. I’ve learned–too late–that this trusting relationship I believed I had with the district was one sided.


I would also like to point out, that in our effort to do the right thing by the district, we reached out to Mr. Carrion to prevent you from paying unnecessary transportation fees. If I could go back and do it again, I would’ve paid out of pocket and transported my 13-year-old myself, never contacted the new district until June and allowed the WCSD to pick up the bill. I would also like to point out that the poor quality of the transportation your district provided was instrumental in our decision to move in the first place. It is on record with the WCSD transportation office that our driver was continuously late causing my son to be tardy for class. On one occasion, no one showed up to bring him home from school and I was never notified this was occurring. Of course, that was because they had no idea their driver was missing. I’m glad I’ve provided my son with a cell phone, because after much miscommunication, he didn’t arrive home until 8pm that evening. Additionally, I recently discovered his driver was stopping to smoke with the children in the vehicle. Even worse, she was returning to the bus with a lit cigarette. When an asthmatic child complained, the driver suggested he get an inhaler. This is not a complete list of what we’ve had to deal with.


I am absolutely convinced that I could have gotten away with any duplicity involving my child’s transportation. After contacting his transportation and the Special Education Department at WCSD and explaining we were no longer using their transportation (approximately three weeks later) I received an urgent message from the transportation company asking if it would be okay to drop my son off at the house for an early school dismissal. Incompetence.


Yesterday, after meeting with Mr. Carrion, I picked up my children from school and I was surrounded by a group of young 5th grade men who were looking to me for answers. They wanted to know why the school district would do this to their best friend. They were asking if my 10-year-old would still be able to attend the 5th grade overnight field trip to Philadelphia or if he’d be standing with them for graduation. Their parents stood around with their jaws hanging open—appalled. I didn’t have answers for anyone. I explain that we offered to pay tuition for the children so the boys could stay, but that was denied. I’ve even offered to pay the new district the tuition so they could pay the WSCD. Nothing seems to be possible. I’m trying hard to live with the emotions that come from knowing I failed my children by not lying.


After I left Fishkill Elementary, I took my two boys to the new school they’ll be attending. The 10-year-old barely made it out of the building before he broke down. He told me he held it in because he didn’t want the new principal to think he didn’t like them–he just wanted to graduate with his friends. I hugged him and said all the right things about adversity and life’s disappointments. But because I’m not prone to lying, I also told him the administration of the Wappingers Central School District had behaved cruelly and demonstrated they cared more about politics and bureaucracy than they do about him. I told him the people who made this decision have never laid eyes on him and they probably have never reviewed his file. They certainly didn’t talk to the administration, teachers and staff at Fishkill Elementary. I told my son that I’d tried my best to fix this, but WCSD hadn’t cared enough to investigate a possible solution. I told him they’ve demonstrated he is not nearly as important as a test or a textbook or a dollar.


And then I hugged him again and dried his tears because that’s all I can do.


Wait—I stand corrected.


I can continue to tell the truth and write about it.



Kimberly Sabatini




I did give the Wappingers Central School District the opportunity to view this letter before I publicly posted it. I received a timely response from them today…


Dear Mrs. Kimberly Sabatini:


 I acknowledge receipt of your letter on behalf of the Board of Education. I apologize on behalf of the Board for the inconvenience caused to you while you were waiting to meet our administration officials. As you can understand that we are a very large school district and administrators have many responsibilities and a very busy schedule.  We appreciate your candor, and very much sympathize with the difficulties presented by your mid-year move out of the District. I have spoken with our Superintendent and attorneys.


 Our attorneys have advised us, however, that under state law, only residents of the District are entitled to attend schools on a tuition-free basis.  The only exception allowed by the Commissioner of Education (and the District) is where a high-school senior moves out in the middle of their senior year.


 Accordingly, the Board is prohibited from allowing your children to finish out the school year on a tuition-free basis.


 Please be assured that the District will do everything it can to assure a smooth transition of records to your new District. If we can do anything to assist you , please do not hesitate to contact us again.




Ved Shravah


Wappingers Board of Education.


Of course I thanked President Shravah for his timely response and his candor. I also indicated I’d be contacting the Commissioner of Education to let him know how disappointed I am with this policy. Additionally, I mentioned that while I did appreciate the busy schedules of the administrators, I hoped Mr. Jose Carrion would be called to task for his rude behavior. An apology for his comments was suspiciously absent from the district’s response.

So where do I stand now? I’m still sad. I’m still angry. I’m still disappointed. But I feel as if this isn’t just my story. I know of many, many parents in this district and in other districts who are experiencing these same kinds of troubles and frustrations. No one is being heard. We must adapt without complaint to Core Curriculum and testing demands, but when we need flexibility, there is none. We have been told that no child should be left behind in the modern age of public education, but what does that really mean in the big scheme of things? Because my child will be left behind when his peers go on the end of the year field trip. And he will also be left behind when they all stand up together for their moving up ceremony. Why is it too much to ask that decisions be made in the best for our kids instead of the lawyers.

The big picture is that parents are just trying to give their children a quality education–one that takes into account their emotional well being as much as their academic one.

I would consider it a personal favor if you would Facebook, Tweet and use any other form of social media to get this Open Letter to the Wappingers Central School District out into the light. This has had a direct impact on my children, but I truly believe mine are not going to be the last kids to be in this situation. I’m also not going to be the last Mom to be bullied by a school administrator. We teach our kids to be kind and honest and it’s time we expect the same behavior from the adults. I know it sounds corny, but I’m picturing the Who’s from Horton Hears a Who. It appears it takes EVERY voice for all of us to have any voice at all.


If you have more to say, you can respectfully speak out here:

* Ved Shravah, President of the Wappingers Central School District Board of Education

*Marco Pochintesta, Superintendent of the Wappingers Central School District

*Jose Carrion, Assistant Superintendent of the Wappingers Central School District

*Commissioner of Education, Dr. John B. King Jr.

New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234

I have yet to find an email for Dr. King, but he is on Twitter.

Looking for a pre-made tweet?

Please reconsider the NYS Edu. policy for moving out-of-district mid-school year. @JohnKingNYSED #apersonsaperson






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