Chaos and Change, Part 3

12973396_10154810270134816_8980740602952449345_oAs I wrote before, Open Mind School (OMS), my daughter’s fantastic new school in Redwood City, was being kicked out of its current location by Oracle’s childcare provider and then lost its new location in Menlo Park to Facebook. We had just over two months to figure out a solution or OMS would be homeless.

After our parent meeting, we decided that our first course of action would be to send a letter to the Menlo Park landlord in hopes that we could sway his decision. If that didn’t work, we would approach Facebook to see what was possible. After that, we would would regroup and decide what to do next.

Marina Vaserman, the Director of Open Mind School, and several OMS parents took a stab at the letter to the landlord. It wasn’t bad, but this had to be the mother of all advocacy letters. Adequate would never be good enough.

So shortly before Memorial Day weekend, about a week after our parent meeting, I did a total overhaul of the draft letter. Then Marina and I stayed up until the wee hours tweaking and polishing it further. In the end, we were pleased with what we came up with.

Here’s the letter that Marina delivered to the landlord:

Dear [Landlord],

We, the parents, teachers, and supporters of Open Mind School (OMS), are contacting you regarding our current real estate challenge. As you may be aware, OMS is unique in what it offers to children like ours — a place where neurodiverse students join neurotypical students to learn and thrive. 

Open Mind School has helped our children grow and realize their full potential. It serves students whose needs have not been met by numerous Bay Area school districts, including San Francisco, Las Lomitas, Los Altos, Mountain View, Pleasant Hill, Livermore, Union City, Daly City, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park, Milpitas, Hayward, and Fremont. These children travel long distances to attend this school, in part because it offers what no other school in the Bay Area can provide: an opportunity for equal education tailored to unique student needs. 

Open Mind School has so many incredible stories of student transformation, so many great partnerships, so many amazing initiatives, but most of all, so much heart! The attached documents provide a deeper overview, but you can watch this video to glimpse the magic.  

We know that you’ve been in discussions for months with Marina Vaserman of OMS for the lease of 1215 O’Brien Street in Menlo Park. Our current sublease ends in two months. If another organization takes this location, our students risk having no home for the coming school year that begins in August 2017. 

This is a heartfelt request on behalf of all our exceptional children to please give OMS primary consideration for the lease of 1215 O’Brien Street in Menlo Park.  

Parents, Teachers, and Supporters of Open Mind School


Now we wait to see what happens. Will OMS find a place to call home? Will it be moving to Menlo Park or not?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I do know that none of us will give up on this amazing school and the magic it performs daily for our exceptional kids.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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