Lisa Aponoves needed help during the COVID-19 panic. The public school where her special needs daughter was a tenth grade student instituted a strict mask policy, and the Riverview Community School District refused to make accommodations.
Aponoves’ daughter had undergone nasal surgery, experienced breathing trouble, and was under a physician’s order not to wear anything on her face. She also had acute anxiety that was triggered by being singled out. Aponoves provided the district with notes from the family doctor and a neuropsychologist in the Henry Ford Health System.
District officials refused to compromise. They said the girl’s options were to wear a mask, attend remote schooling, or sit at her desk in class, six feet from the other students and surrounded by plexiglass. None of these options worked. Aponoves’ daughter has an individual learning plan that requires in-person instruction, while isolation behind a plexiglass barrier would have aggravated the teenager’s anxiety.
Aponoves came to Michigan Capitol Confidential with her story in late 2021. CapCon wrote two stories on this issue. The first explored the detrimental impact of inflexible COVID policies and the school’s violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The second showcased a photo gallery the diligent mother had compiled, showing students, teachers and even then- Superintendent Russell E. Pickell happily attending public events without masks. Aponoves and her daughter were thankful that CapCon shed light on the school’s unfair treatment of a vulnerable student.
One of the most rewarding things about being assistant managing editor of CapCon is connecting with readers who appreciate our reporting. Sometimes the government works. When it does not, residents suffer. CapCon helps people like Lisa Aponoves and her daughter by drawing attention to issues government overlooks, ignores, or refuses to resolve.
We consider it an honor when individuals trust us with their stories. Sometimes they ask for help resolving an issue. Sometimes they just want their story heard.
Our unfair advantage in reporting is that we have access to public policy experts and a winning legal team. This combination gives us information and perspectives often omitted by mainstream news organizations that do not have the time, money or inclination to consider other points of view. By highlighting issues media ignore and officials prefer to keep hidden, we hold government accountable to the people.