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Kamari’s Biggest Champion

Photo of elementary school classroom with many kids seated at desks, hands raised.

Kamari and Tori get along about as much as a parent can expect for a ten-year-old brother and his five-year-old sister. They’ll play together well for a while, but when Kamari decides he wants to play separately, that’s when Tori decides she’s in charge. She’s building her leadership skills early and tries to claim veto power over Kamari – despite the age gap.  

Kamari on the sidewalk heading to school, looking over his shoulder with backpack on.

Kamari hasn’t always been as clear as Tori in expressing his feelings, especially at school. From an early age, he had difficulty interacting socially. And when he had trouble paying attention and staying on task, his pre-kindergarten school frequently called his mom, Ms. Harrington. Many times, the request was for Ms. Harrington to come take him home early for the day, but sometimes the challenges became so severe that they would ask him not to come back to school for days.  

His behavior at home was much better, though, and Ms. Harrington thought Kamari might thrive in a different classroom setting.  

He started kindergarten at a new elementary school but, unfortunately, things didn’t get better.  

“I knew something was wrong but didn’t know what it was,” Ms. Harrington recalled. “I went through a lot of depression days. It’s stressful, getting these calls and hearing bad things about your child, the signs they see at school that I didn’t see at home.”  

An Initial Plan

Ms. Harrington worked with Kamari’s doctors and his new school to understand what was going on and how best to help him. Kamari was diagnosed with ADHD, and they developed an IEP that called for supports in math and reading along with a new behavioral health plan.  

By third grade, though, the plan wasn’t working. The school called Ms. Harrington regularly – sometimes multiple times a week – about Kamari disrupting the class, but did not respond to her concerns about his behavioral health supports. 

Ms. Harrington needed legal help and knew who she wanted to call. She had reached out to Children’s Law Center in the past for questions and advice – once when Kamari was suspended at preschool and again when she needed insights on whether requesting an IEP was the right thing for him.  

Our attorneys explained the special education evaluation process and pointed her to different supports that might help Kamari. Ms. Harrington used their advice to navigate the system, but now she needed more support.  

The Right Support for Changing Needs

Ms. Harrington worked with Children’s Law Center Staff Attorney Liz Maloney to get new evaluations for Kamari that led to updating his IEP with services that match his current needs.  

Behavior is a form of communication: if we listen to what the communication is saying, we know where additional supports are needed.

Staff Attorney Liz Maloney

“As Kamari grew and changed, so did his needs,” Liz Maloney explained. “The best way to support the child he is today became clear from updated evaluations and assessments. This information empowered us to advocate for critical services, including a dedicated aide to provide specialized support in the classroom.”  

“Kamari now has the services and medication he needs for his ADHD,” Ms. Harrington said. “He really likes his dedicated aide, and now he’s social with the kids at school, better able to understand himself and understand others. He’s calm and he wants to get his work done.” She hasn’t gotten any calls from the school asking her to pick him up since the new services and treatment plan have been in place.   

Bringing a lawyer onto the team to advocate for Kamari not only helped him get the right services, Ms. Harrington said, but also gave her back time and energy for herself and her family – energy she just couldn’t muster when she was fighting for Kamari’s education alone.  

“When Liz helped me, I got to slow down, be a little calmer. She was hearing me out, working through it, and I knew I could let her do the work,” Ms. Harrington said. “Sometimes you’ve got to put it into the advocate’s hands.” 

Kamari and Tori still get on each other’s nerves from time to time like all siblings, but they also show the love they have for each other with giant hugs. They know they’ll always be supported in expressing their feelings because they have their best champion by their side: the one who’s really in charge, despite Tori’s best efforts – their proud mom.