Voice: Sister of disabled student says not all disabilities drug-related

February 13, 2002

This letter is in response to Mr. Ed Woeten's letter alleging that all children in special education classes are drug babies. I can assure you, Mr. Woeten, that not all disabilities are caused by a parent's involvement with drugs.

I am the sibling of Susana Ponce, age 16, who was born with Down syndrome Trisomy 21. I would just like you to know that the cause of her syndrome has nothing to do with drugs but is a chromosomal disorder.

I am shocked and disgusted that a substitute teacher would spread such ignorance and misinformation to the people of the Imperial Valley. We need our children to be educated in the public school system by teachers who are educated themselves. Making ignorant comments about children without knowing all the facts, especially about a child's medical diagnosis considering you do not hold a medical degree, is unnecessary and I find it deeply upsetting.


I would also like to add that not all children in special education classes come to school with soiled clothes, are unclean and wear the same clothes all week. I can assure you my little sister is treated with as much love, care and respect as the rest of my parents' children are.

Our experience with Susana has been a blessing to our family and we see it as a gift from God. Susana's disability is not a burden on us in any way, shape or form, as you and Mrs. A. seem to think. I can assure you that God chose our family to be blessed with Susana because he knew we were strong enough to handle the situation and that includes responding to negative statements made by uneducated people such as yourselves.

Susana, Mr. Woeten, is the heart and soul of my family and I can promise you that she is very well taken care of. My parents are by far not wealthy people, but do a tremendous job in providing the best for Susana and meeting her needs.

I have written this letter not just because I am Susana's sister but in hopes that I have educated you. It is unfortunate that I, a future teacher, have to educate my elder in this manner. I would have hoped you could have served as an inspiration.

Unfortunately, you are a disgrace to the visions, beliefs and purpose of the educational system. I sincerely hope the district that employs you takes a closer look at your letter and reconsiders your employment. Your generalizations of parents and their children in special education classes are frightening. I pray to God, that you never set foot in Susana's classroom.


Elmhurst College

Elmhurst, Ill.

(Southwest High School

Class of 1998)

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