Breggett Rideau is a mother on a mission.
Rideau is understandably protective of her son, Terrance, who has special needs, so when she heard what had happened to him at the hands of a Texas teacher, she had no choice but to take action.
She tells Independent Journal Review that Terrance came home from Keller Middle School in 2008 with severe injuries:
“He came home with knot on [his] head, then he had two dislocated knees and then got a broken thumb, all from when he was at school.”
Rideau pulled her son out of the school and demanded an investigation into the matter.
A few years later, she says the investigation revealed more than her heart could bear.
Names had been left out of the court’s paperwork in an attempt to protect people’s rights and privacy.
But after hearing about the horrific findings, Rideau met one-on-one with the school’s attorney to reveal the names of the case — to her dismay, Terrance’s name came up a few times:
“That’s how I found out that my son was the one who was kicked across a classroom by his teacher, yelled at to ‘shut up’ and slammed against a wall.
What’s more disturbing is the man that hurt my son had been in our home, to his BIRTHDAY party. All of this had been reported by a teachers’ aide, but no one ever called me. That’s when I said, ‘I’m going to court and we’re getting cameras in these classrooms.’”
And so the legal battle began.
Rideau explains that she didn’t really know where to start. So she started by testifying in court about what had happened to her son, something she says was “painful” as she relived every time her son was abused.
She also wrote petitions and says she “harassed” lawmakers to create a law requiring special needs classrooms in Texas to have video cameras to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
The determined mom tells us that she’s a Democrat, but then-Senator Dan Patrick, a Republican, became her son’s knight in shining armor.
“Texas has legislative sessions every two years. In 2013 I testified and Sen. Patrick wrote a camera bill. I had harassed Gov. Rick Perry, too. I put some musicians on a bus and two other families like mine, picketed in front of capital for this bill to become a law.
I was so hurt when the bill failed, but Mr. Patrick made me a promise. He’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat, but he promised me he’d get the bill passed and he kept his word. He saved my life and saved my family.”
It might have taken her seven years, but with the help of a New York lobbyist she hired, fundraising and even the use of her life savings, Rideau finally got what she had been fighting for last June, when Senate Bill 507 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
According to teachthevote.org, the new law requires of all Texas school districts:
Audio/video monitoring equipment in any self-contained classroom in which special education services are being provided to at least 50 percent of the students for at least 50 percent of the school day. The requirement is triggered in the event that a parent, school board member, or staff member on the campus requests that audio/video monitoring equipment be installed. The bill also requires school districts to store the audio and video recordings for not less than six months and to release the footage to persons specified by the bill.
Additionally, the bill specifies that districts may accept donations and grant money to fund the purchase of equipment and that the commissioner of education shall provide a grant program in the event that excess Foundation School Program funds are available from the state.
Today, Dan Patrick is the state’s Lieutenant Governor. Rideau says she wishes more politicians put the American people first like he did:
“That man has a good heart — I don’t know it because I heard it, I know it because I talked to him to his face and he made me a promise. And that promise, that’s decency right there.
Everyone came together to make this law possible — Republicans and Democrats worked together, that’s what America is all about. I’m so desperate for my country, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be people coming together for the common good.”
Though she just received a letter in the mail that her son’s school is putting cameras in classrooms this school year, she reflects back on the hard road it took to enact change.
Rideau recalls begging God to help her:
“I never prayed so much in my life. They’re [children] the most vulnerable citizens of the U.S. — they might not be able to vote in elections, but they have the right to be safe from harm at school. For the love of God.
That school let me fight all those years and they knew that man hurt my son. That’s heartbreaking.”
When asked how Terrance is doing, she said he still likes to smile, watch sports and loves to hug people. Since her son’s brain was damaged after what she calls a “bad vaccine” when he was 4 months old, he’s required more care than a typical kid.
But Terrance developed dystonia, which is “involuntary muscle contractions that cause repetitive or twisting movements,” as a result of the trauma he endured in the classroom, which forced Rideau to hire a full staff of nurses and caregivers.
Rideau’s strength and faith have gotten her through the toughest seven years of her life. She says the key to surviving anything life throws at you is having gumption and endurance — two things she clearly has in spades.
Source: independent journal
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