I was still breastfeeding but I knew I had to prepare for due process for my eldest son. The district’s educational evaluation results were in. My son was re-tested with the Woodcock Johnson 111 Test of Achievement. I looked at the scores. My son had regressed. I read and compared the scores apples to apples. My son had previously scored in the 17% percentile in his Basic Reading Skills in Kindergarten. Now he was in the 4th percentile at the end of first grade. How much worse could it get? The Woodcock Johnson 111 Test of Achievement was a standardized test that compared my son’s reading skills within his own age cohorts. And his score reflected that out of every one hundred children he had scored better then three other children. This was EXTREMELY disturbing given his IQ. But if there was something to be said good out of all this, how would the school district explain that their own test results indicated serious regression?
On May 12, 2003 I filed my first due process petition with the help of the new advocate. The petition read:
“There are three distinct issues involving the provision of a free appropriate public education. He has made no progress in developing reading skills. The proposed IEP outlines a behaviorial disabilites class for the 2003-2004 school year even though the behavior chart over the year has shown an ascencding trend for the desired behaviors outlined in the chart. The District refuses to include the Fast For Word Program as part of his extended school year despite recommending it as a tool to help him learn basic pre-reading skills.”
We also included the resource teachers comments from the taped IEP meeting that said, “He is at a pre-readiness level. He is developing consonant sound recognition but still has trouble remembering each phonetic sound. Q,V,W still give him trouble. He is beginning to know the short A vowel but E, I, O, U are all difficult. He does not decode or sound out words. He only knows a few sight words.”
We then noted several weaknesses and a short history of my son’s story.
Lastly it stated, “The parents are in disagreement that a self contained behavioral disabilities class is an appropriate placement for a child with a serious reading disability.”
We requested the following to resolve our dispute.
“1. Provide an intensive one on one Orton Gillingham program to help him develop the basic reading skills necessary to become a fluent reader during the school year 2003-2004.”
“2. Provide him with the Fast For Word program for the summer as a compensatory measure for his not making meaningful progress in his current reading program and include it in the IEP.”
“3. Provide additional tutoring in the Orton Gillingham program during the summer to help him increase his reading skills from a pre-readiness level to a readiness level.”
The Due Process was filed with a request to mediate first. We waited for the state to contact us with a date.
June 5th we headed to mediation. However, it was a failed mediation. And the Attorney and Special Education Director were extremely arrogant. By their attitudes, I knew it was all about winning and not at all about my child. The mediator would now forward the case to the Office of Administrative Law.
In the meantime, a few days later on June 11th my son’s class had a trip to the library. I attended the trip because I was a class mother. The librarian started to speak to the children. She said, “Most of you children entering the second grade are now reading chapter books.” She then went on to say, “Some of you are still reading easy reader books and that is okay.” During this time my son slumped over, put his fingers in his mouth, and had his head down. Later when it was time to pick out a book the resource room teacher approached my son with a book that she picked out and told him you might like this book because I think it has a few words in it that you can read. He became upset and ran away and hid behind a bookcase. The teacher then came over to me and handed me the book. I instantly became the bad guy and now my son ran from me and in circles. He eventually crawled under a bench that was in the library. I put the book down, got down on the floor,
and said, “Are you upset because you feel you can’t read the book?” He said, “Yes, that is why I was upset but now I am embarrassed for the way I acted in front of my friends by running and hiding.” A peer from his class who overheard came over and said, “It is okay, we know you always act like this during reading.” It was such a sad but eye opening moment and I thought I need to get this kid to my son’s IEP meeting or the courthouse, he is smarter then the professionals! Those were my exact thoughts and I started to feel angry! Just then the resource teacher came over and said, “Is this all over a book?” I said, “NO, this is all over that he can’t read the book.” I then proceeded to tell her the results of his recent testing, how the gap was widening for him in reading and asked her to justify why he needs to go into a behavior disabilities class verses a one on one intensive reading program. She wouldn’t answer me. I came to my sanity for a quick
second and knew this was not the place to have this discussion. It was time to leave so I jumped in my car and drove to the school. I asked to speak to the Principal. I was told I could go into her office. She was there along with the Vice Principal. I re-iterated the library story and said I will do everything and anything for my son including going to the newspaper. I threatened to have my son’s test results published in the newspaper with a title, “THIS IS YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!” She managed to calm me down and apologized. She said she appreciated my advocacy but it was out of her hands because it was now in the hands of the Special Education Department. I left and I sent a note to the teacher through the communication book. She never did answer. I later received a note from the case manager stating that the district would not answer me because we were “in litigation.”
Now I just had to await the date of my due process….
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT