Three days after my third son was born I was at the school helping with the Valentine’s Day party. I was also preparing for an IEP meeting. I didn’t like the way things were going for my son at school. He still was not reading and the school was not implementing the Positive Behavioral Plan the way it was intended. At least my son’s seat was out of the corner.
I had found another advocate who was less expensive. I still wasn’t confident enough to go to the IEP meeting alone because they never listened to me. I was JUST a “PARENT”. Plus I didn’t have a degree or title to my name. I was getting alot more savvy but I figured it was always good to have a second knowledgeable person around and one who DID have a degree. I figured she would get more respect because I hadn’t gotten much respect at all. Plus this advocate would work with me financially because I was doing a bulk of the work by now anyway. I had asked to see my sons’ educational records prior to the IEP meeting but they never were made available.
I was dealing with the new case manager by now. She had a pleasant calming voice, cutesy look, decent figure, and dressed very conservative. You’ll learn later why my description of her is important. But apparently, she had not yet gone to the boot camp seminar on how to screw and lie to parents yet. She stated in the IEP meeting that when she observed my son she felt horrible that his seat had been placed in the corner. She said he was “ostracized’ by the teacher and of course this made him stand out to his peers. I went over each one of my concerns for my son. I also brought in research to back up every service and program that I felt my son needed. I stated that I felt my son did need the Fast For Word program as recommended by the reading specialist. Of course, the child study team agreed with their reading specialist’s recommendation. Then the child study team went on to propose that my son be placed in a self contained class. The behavioral disabilities class. Here we went again, right to proposing a self contained placement without trying other services and supports again. However, I requested a different reading curriculum to be used in class and for him to also receive additional one on one reading instruction. According to my research, I requested an Orton Gillingham Based Reading program. Lastly, I asked for a second educational evaluation with a different learning disabilities consultant. I was told that none of my other requests could be decided upon because all decisions are made by the Special Education Director. The meeting concluded.
After the meeting I typed up a letter of understanding from our meeting. I wrote, “I am in disagreement with the proposed ESY and 2003-2004 educational school plan.” I also stated that I could not agree to any related services since they were not clearly defined. I went on to confirm that the child study team could not make any decisions regarding my requests without the prior approval of their boss, the Special Education Director. I went on to document how I was never given access to my child’s educational files as permitted. I said, “According to NJAC 6A: 14-2.9 (b)this outlines that a parent shall be permitted to respect and review any of the student’s documents maintained by the district board of education without any unnecessary delay and before any meeting prior to the IEP.” Interestingly, I also went on to note that I had not been made aware that parents could observe their children in class on a particular date set by the district. I found out that I was the ONLY parent in the class who never got that notice. I hand delivered my letter to both my son’s case manager and the Director of Special Services with a note on the bottom that said, “Received by: X________________________ Date:________. I asked for a signature. The Director’s secretary signed for it no problem. I realized later she had experience signing for these kind of letters. However, the new case manager was scared to death. She called out the principal who informed her it was okay to sign for my letter. But she noted, “Although not in agreement with parts of this letter it was received.”
According to the case manager they were still willing to work with me, but I had my doubts and just smiled and said, “I’ll be looking forward to your response.”
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT