“I fight for equal rights and opportunities for my children, and other children. I am part of this work because my daughter and other children deserve a chance to excel and be seen as more than just their disability qualifying code.”
Melina E.A. is a Chicana mother of two children in San Antonio, Texas. Melina is a 14-year educator, a union organizer, a community activist, a wife, but most importantly a mother. During her own career as an educator, Melina observed how insufficient teacher training prevented educators from effectively supporting students with disabilities.
Melina’s daughter, C.A., is in seventh grade and has been homeschooled since Fall 2020 due to the challenges of remote learning. These include a lack of planning and a lack of available resources to meet C.A’s accommodations in the middle of this pandemic.
Due to C.A’s disabilities which cause high levels of anxiety along with other learning and behavioral differences that are essentially manifestations of her ASD level 1, C.A. would not be able to face the challenges of virtual instruction in the way that it was presented in Texas. The lack of resources and staff made virtual instruction an impossible option, and in-person instruction was not safe due to C.A’s anxiety with mask-wearing for long periods of time as well as safety and health concerns stemming from COVID-19. Melina does not see homeschooling as a permanent solution but understands it as the only safe way for C.A. to be educated currently.
C.A. enjoys reading and drawing and wants to be an artist when she grows up. She is talented, smart, witty, and kind. On multiple occasions, C.A. has had issues accessing and receiving proper services in the IEP or 504 Plan. Melina believes that C.A. was only evaluated for an IEP because she made advocating for her daughter a full-time job. Melina feels like she needs to be a special education expert just to make sure C.A. can obtain the IEP services she needs in order to properly learn.