A father in York County, Virginia has been banned from public school property by his local school district after advocating for the equal treatment and education of his special needs daughter. Despite tough campaign talk on parental rights in public education, Governor Youngkin’s office has ignored the father’s pleas for assistance.
On September 23rd, Dr. Juan Yakisich and his family received a letter from the York County School Division, signed by the school board chair, banning him from all public school property.
The letter, which has been exclusively obtained by National File, claims that Dr. Yakisich put the district in danger by advocating for the equal treatment and education of his special needs daughter, and had “willfully interrupted” the “operations” of the school district.
“Please be advised that you are not allowed to enter any property of the York County School Division,” the district’s letter, which was signed by school board chair Laurel Garrelts, reads, threatening Dr. Yakisich with arrest if he violates the ban.
“Should you refuse to follow the school board’s directive relative to entry onto the property of the York County School Division, you will be considered to have trespassed and law enforcement will be notified,” the letter threatens.
While Dr. Yakisich pulled his middle school-age special needs daughter out of public schools after York County’s many failures, the letter directly impacts his ability to parent his younger, elementary school-age daughter, who is still a York County student.
Disturbingly, the York County School Division tells Dr. Yakisich in the letter that he is to have no access to his daughter while she’s in school.
If he needs to get to his child, even in the case of an emergency, he has to get permission from the school system first, or face arrest.
“You may enter [the elementary school property] only if the school has contacted you in regards to your daughter,” reads the school division’s Laurel Garrelts-signed letter.
“Or you have first contacted the school’s office in advance to secure permission and schedule an appointment for your entry.”
Read The York County School Division’s Full Ban Letter HERE
Dr. Yakisich tells National File that his family has long had tremendous difficulty securing the satisfactory education of their daughter, a York County, middle school-age student with special needs.
These problems reached a boiling point after the district’s prolonged COVID shutdowns ended, and his daughter was “traumatized” by school leadership’s failure to live up to their commitments and expectations.
When the lockdowns ended, school officials falsely claimed to the Yakisich family that their daughter would be eased back into day-to-day school activities.
The York County School Division told the family that a special ed teacher would provide their daughter with 1-on-1 instruction for a period of time before she re-entered the typical classroom environment.
When she returned to school, the family found out it was all a lie, and their daughter was tossed back into a classroom full of kids right away. This prompted Dr. Yakisich to pull his daughter back out of school and demand the district follow through with their agreed-upon plans.
After an “investigation” was conducted by York County School Division officials, H.R. Chief Dr. Anthony Vladu covered for the district by claiming there must have been some sort of misunderstanding, and recommended the use of translators, because Dr. Yakisich is originally from Argentina.
“The parties should maximize the use of language and cultural translators to address the misunderstandings and assumptions uncovered during the investigation,” Vladu wrote in his recommendations.
Dr. Yakisich tells National File that, when he took the school district up on their recommendations ahead of two Individual Education Plan meetings regarding his daughter, they were unable to comply.
“I requested the service of a ‘Rioplatense Castilian translator with expertise in cultural translation’ for two IEP meetings and they only brought ‘English/Spanish’ translators with zero expertise in cultural translation,” Dr. Yakisich told National File.
“We ended up speaking English without the need of a translator,” he told National File.
The family’s problems though weren’t isolated to COVID re-entry. The school district, Dr. Yakisich tells National File, failed his daughter in a number of ways, refusing to commit to her Individual Education Plan time and time again, making changes to her plan without parental consent or consultation, and barring her from taking Virginia’s statewide SOL exams.
When Dr. Yakisich began posting online looking for relief and hoping to make contact with school officials, he was blocked. That action didn’t just violate his right to communicate with his public officials, like school board members, but his constitutionally-protected right as a parent to play an active role in the education of his child.
Despite even making several pleas for help directly to the office of Governor Glenn Youngkin, who rode parental frustration over Virginia’s broken public schools to his 2021 victory, Dr. Yakisich tells National File that he’s received no response and no assistance.
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Like many parents have in recent years, in the wake of the York County School Division’s unaccountable mishandling of his family’s situation, Dr. Yakisich has pulled his special needs daughter out of their local public school system.
He tells National File that he will continue fighting for accountability and the equal treatment of his special needs daughter by the York County School Division and state authorities, including the office of Governor Youngkin.
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