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The telephone rings just about every night at 6:30, but we fall for it every time and answer.
Hello, one of us says, simultaneously realizing that the Caller ID says Los Ang Un. That's caller id-speak for The Los Angeles Unified School District or LA Unified in local parlance. As the voice begins its monotonous message, we generally hang up. Even my young sons know what it's all about, and while hanging up, love to imitate the robot's ridiculous pronunciation of their sister's name. The robo call comes each night to inform me that my daughter has been either tardy or absent from school that day. My daughter is fifteen years old and severely disabled. She is in what's called a special day class in a nearby LA Unified school. She is late every day because she has seizures and they come hard and fast each morning. She needs extra time to get up and to get going. Sometimes she just needs to sleep in, and we have a very strict policy to never, under any circumstances, interrupt her sleep. That policy came at great cost — literally more than a decade of interrupted sleep, of seizures all night long, of restless, agitated early morning darkness. Sophie's school and teacher have accommodated this erratic schedule, but for some reason, the larger District, or downtown, as the LA Unified bureaucracy is known, just hasn't caught on. I've called and asked them to take my daughter's name off the list. I've repeatedly told them that the calls drive me crazy and that my daughter is going to be late, maybe every single day, but that this has been dealt with in her IEP (Individualized Education Plan). I point out that her doctor has even signed a note about it. The calls keep coming, though, and we even got a letter in the mail once stating that Sophie was a truant. The letter warned us that action would be taken, perhaps by Raymond Cortines himself, if her attendance didn't improve.Continued on the next page