The Story of Andrea Santa Maria

I know many or most of the blogs I post on my website are related in some degree to real estate, market trends or how real estate affects our day-to-day lives – because, well that is what I do - inform you of important real estate information. But today, I want to talk to you about something far more important than real estate.

We all know the market conditions impact not only the value of home sales but do we really know how far down the trickle effect goes? They say for every home sale, literally thousands of dollars goes back into our economy in some fashion – be it the Realtors, to the title companies, to the locksmith to the pizza delivery guy on the big moving night.

But with all the changes in the economy from the lack of home sales and/or the rapid decline in home values, have we really taken the time to evaluate what that means for the future of Arizona? In some ways yes, in others, we have not even begun to understand the short and long term effects – and we have simply glossed over one very crucial part of our community which has been hit the hardest - our school districts.

Across Arizona, school districts have been forced to make difficult decisions to cut costs just so they can meet minimum educational standards. These budget cuts are leaving kids, like my 17year old niece Andrea to face difficult, if not impossible decisions about their futures.

At 7years old, my niece was diagnosed with Diabetes. Over a short period of time, Andrea’s condition escalated to what is called Brittle Diabetes. In easy-to-understand medical terms, Brittle Diabetes is described as uncontrollable type 1 diabetes causing large swings in blood sugar levels. Currently, Brittle Diabetes affects less than 1% of insulin-dependant diabetes patients. The long term effects of Brittle Diabetes on the physical body are still being discovered by medical science, which can range from major organ failure to onset learning disabilities. Today, Andrea weighs less than 70 pounds and receives 5 to 6 insulin injections daily and is required to check her blood sugar count at a minimum of 7 to 8 times per day.

In one month Andrea is set to graduate high school, despite also having been diagnosed with I.D.D. (Intellectual Developmental Disability) or also known as M.M.R. (Mild Mental Retardation). When Andrea enrolled in high school as a freshman, her scholastic skills were that of a 2nd grader, yet the school and the west valley education department has managed to let this poor girl slip through the cracks, claiming that in 30+ days, Andrea will be ready to go out into the world to begin her life as a fully functioning adult – even though she lacks the ability to tell time.

I am sharing this story with you to ask for your help. My sister has exhausted her options within the actual high school where Andrea attends as well as within the school district. She is fearful for her daughter’s physical health, not to mention how she will manage in the real world if in fact she is forced to graduate high school next month.

In the state of Arizona, there are programs available for special students, like my niece, which would allow her to attend school until the age of 22, however, the school district is refusing to recognize that Andrea needs help – nor are they owning up to the fact that for the past 3 years, Andrea has not received the proper educational support she needed to pass the basic academic requirements of a high school graduate. Sadly, I am certain Andrea is not the first student this has happened too but if we can speak out now and help each other, maybe she will be the last.

My niece needs our assistance and fast. We are looking for legal counsel, a student advocate for the Arizona Department of Education or someone who has been through this process before who can offer solid advise – but we need help now. I know at least one person reading this blog can help – please contact me either via email at or on my personal cell phone at 602-430-5226. Together we can make a difference – I thank you in advance!

**05/13/2011 Update**
An account has been set up on behalf of Andrea with Desert Schools Federal Credit Union: Andrea Santa Maria, routing #122187238, Savings #6000091765.