Meet Donna

In advocating for her daughter, Donna has also become an advocate for special needs students in her entire school community.

This Women's History Month, we've profiled some of the extraordinary women we're proud to support at EdNavigator. (Catch up with Rose, Princess, and Lisa).

Today, meet Donna. Jessica DaSilva-Fisher, Donna's Navigator, says: "Donna is amazing. She has not only been able to learn the process, learn her child's rights and advocate for her daughter, she has also become an advocate for students with special needs within the school and the community. For example, her school had a special needs advisory council, but the meetings were on a weekday morning, and there was nothing in place to include working parents. Donna was the one who raised this and set up a conference line so working parents like her could be included in the conversation. Wherever there seems to be a roadblock, she manages to advocate her way in."

“I had TyAnne at forty-three. She's my only child. So dealing with the schools was a first time experience for me. I had to learn a lot of things along the way. My first fight was to get a bus monitor for TyAnne.

Every morning, I drop her off at the Y, and then she is bussed from there to school for two hours, and back again. When I initially decided to send her to school and put her on a bus, I didn't understand that there wouldn't be a bus monitor. I had to call the school and explain to them that not only does she have Down syndrome, TyAnne has respiratory issues, and she tends to choke. I have major choking concerns. The school disagreed with me. They didn't want to give me a bus monitor.

I decided that I didn't want to send TyAnne to school without a bus monitor. But TyAnne’s teacher told me that she really loves TyAnne and TyAnne was progressing well. I started asking, "What do you need for me to get a bus monitor for my daughter?" I went to a cardiologist, pulmonary doctor, her Down syndrome doctor, her pediatrician. I got letters from everyone. And I did get her a bus monitor. Finally.

In school, your child is just another child. So if you don't show interest in your own child, your child will fall through the cracks. I see that that's how it is. The services they had for TyAnne in the beginning—they were unacceptable. EdNavigator came at just the right time. For me to get Jessica and for her to understand the school system—how lucky was I? Jessica has given me a lot of resources. I've learned a lot. And I'm sharing the information as well. I go to a lot of different meetings and conferences where I can share the information with other parents.

Next, I want TyAnne integrated. There's no reason why she shouldn’t be. So that's the next battle that EdNavigator will help me with. For me, it's been a fight. But you gotta fight for your child. It is what it is.”

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