The annual review of the IEP was set for March 26, 2004. When I arrived they presented me with the draft of the proposed IEP for the 2004-2005 school year. Upon review of the document, I noticed the goals were vague and did not provide specific measures. They also proposed to cut my son’s one on one reading from five times per week to three times per week. Additionally, they proposed to reduce my son’s full time aid to part time. The rest of the day when he was not in resource room he would be in the inclusion class which meant there would be two teachers in the room, one a general education teacher and the other a special education teacher. Lastly, they proposed to cease his Speech-Language Therapy services. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the proposed IEP was not in my son’s best interest. Although he had made some progress, he was nowhere near grade level in reading. To reduce services, would surely guarantee he would not be prepared by the time he reached fourth grade. Research shows until third grade, children learn to read. Beginning in fourth grade, children read to learn. Then he’d be falling behind in all subjects. There was no way, I was going to let my child slip through the cracks. I had read the statistics. For the most part, students who were behind in reading in elementary school never caught up to their peers. Unless, of course they received the intensive reading interventions they needed.
I expressed all of my concerns with their proposed IEP. I asked the reading specialist what grade level my son was on? She stated that he was at Level Two Chapter Seventeen. She said Level Two meant that he was now reading second grade materials. I sat and pondered her response for awhile. Then I turned around and said something to the effect like, Really? That is not how Tori Greene explained it to me. The reading specialist looked nervous but the rest of the team had no idea who Tori Greene was. Then I explained how this amazing thing happened to me. I was searching the internet trying to research for the upcoming IEP meeting and about Project Read program. Not only did I find the Project Read program but I got to speak to the women who co-authored the program, Tori Greene. Now all their faces looked a bit nervous. I then said how Tori (yes we were on a first name basis by now) explained that Level Two did not mean my son was on a second grade level. I also said if the child mastered the end of chapter/ unit this meant he had mastered the particular skill they were working on. An example would be if the child had mastered short A they could move to work on Short I and so forth. Once they mastered Short A there would also be a story containing only Short A words so that the child would be able to read it and feel success. I also went on to say that Tori Greene had also offered to view a session between my son and his one on one Project Read trained teacher via video tape to see if the Project Read was being implemented correctly and to offer any suggestions to the team. I ended with, “Isn’t that so great?” I’m sure they were soooo thrilled.
I also went on to say that the reason I wanted the program to stay in place five days a week was because I could see the great job they were doing with him with him. His behavior had dramatically improved. Yes, I stroked their egos! I continued, Here is a child who had such a damaged ego and now that he has tasted success he is in the process of healing that ego. Success breeds success. I am asking you to leave the program in place one more year to see where we get by then. Pulling the supports too soon could be detrimental. I also asked for my son to be re-evaluated using educational standardized testing to see where he was at.
Then I went onto to discuss the reduction of the aid. They stated that my son had developed a “learned helplessness“. I said my son was looking to his one on one aide for re-assurance, that this was normal and healthy after what he had been through. I disagreed that this was a learned helplessness but merely a child looking for affirmation. I was unsure if his full time aid should be reduced. I also wanted to view the inclusion class prior to any decision.
Lastly, I asked for the data to support that my son no longer needed speech-language services. Of course, they had none.
The district agreed to re-visit the IEP document and the current IEP would not change until further discussion had occurred and of course until the case manager spoke to her supervisor. Of course, I had them put that in writing because had I not done so they could legally implement the IEP within fifteen days. But for now we were at a standstill…..
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT