I always think of my son Darren as a diamond.  

He definitely needs some polishing.

But, he has also always brought an immense amount of joy to our family and his friends.

He is 9 years old and will be entering the fourth grade this year.

A few years ago, though, during Hurricane Katrina, we evacuated to Mississippi.

We were only there for a few months when Darren started having nightmares.

He was soon exhibiting symptoms of ADHD and an emotional disability.

So, I moved our family back home to New Orleans so he could be in a more familiar surrounding and we could all be closer to family.

It seemed to help for a bit.

But, when he started back to school here in New Orleans, he started getting into trouble --- a lot. 

I went to the school to talk to them about what was happening and about his needs.  

Many of his teachers adored him and wanted to help but it didn’t seem like the school was helping them help him. 

Or, that the school was even interested in helping him or them. 

Instead, he was treated like he was a lost cause. 

And, he has now come to believe that about himself.

Instead of treating his disability, they locked him in a closet. 

Over and over again.  

They physically held him down and finally emotionally broke him down.  

He feels like he has been let down by the adults in his school. 

He doesn’t trust adults anymore. 

He is scared of attending school. 

He has nightmares all the time.  

My son, my 9-year-old son, is too young to give up on his education.  

But, this is what has happened because the Louisiana Department of Education gave up on him. 

I’m here today because I don’t want any other child to feel like they have been given up on. 

We should value our diamonds.

Even the ones that need polishing.