Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series on Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education candidates. The Daily Tar Heel is not endorsing any CHCCS school board candidates.
Meredith Ballew, a Chapel Hill native and mother of two, said one of the main reasons she is running for CHCCS Board of Education is to utilize her experience and skills to advocate on behalf of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Her daughter, Charlotte, is a junior at Carrboro High School and her son, Griffin, is autistic, and she said has faced challenges learning during his time in public schools. Now, he is a sixth-grade student at a local private school.
Ballew said there are usually two paths in CHCCS for students with disabilities: in a self-contained classroom with an adapted curriculum or a general classroom with support plans.
She said her son fell somewhere in the middle of the two paths, and he felt lost as a result.
This prompted her to get involved with the CHCCS Special Needs Advisory Council, which works to address the opportunity gap for children with disabilities in public schools.
Anne Harden Tindall, a longtime friend of Ballew’s, said Ballew was committed to having her son in public school and was grateful that she had the time to try to make a public school classroom work for him. But, when that did not work, Tindall said Ballew’s response was not to blame the school system and get angry.
"It caused her to sort of really dig in and understand how the school system has been serving students," she said.
Lindsay Bedford, a fellow SNAC parent, said Ballew is incredibly knowledgeable about the special education curriculum, how it works and the policy that surrounds it.