So I decided to contact the Family Policy Compliance Officer at the United States Department of Education in Washington, D.C.. I explained to him how the child study team hadn’t given me access to the teacher’s notes that had been shared in the IEP meeting. He said that I was absolutely correct and that the school district could not withold those documents from me. Under FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) the district must give me access to the notes within forty five days. He agreed to call the superintendent in my behalf. Now just so you know the New Jersey Pupil Records Act gives you the right to have not only access but copies within a ten day period but try getting anyone in the Department of Education to go against another educational institution in the state of New Jersey a self rule state. Of course, I could have filed a formal New Jersey state complaint but that takes time and no guarantee of success. So for more immediate satisfaction I thought having someone in Washington call the district would prompt a better response.
After this I also typed up a very lengthy letter of the chain of events in chronological order to send to the interim superintendent who presided over the district at the time. After re-iterating the chain of events that led up to the most recent IEP meeting I ended the letter with the following:
“As a side note I believe Mr. Bernie Cieplak of FERPA did contact you on June 2, 2005 to clarify that shared teacher notes become educational records according to FERPA. Please also be advised that once I requested access to these records at the meeting that FERPA forbids the district from destroying this record. My receipt of the IEP does not satisfy my request and I am requesting access to this original document within the forty five day allowed period. In addition, the case manager stated that it was my choice of whether I wanted to provide the district with a copy of my concerns and I decided to do this. She went on to say, It was their choice to decide whether they would provide copies of the teacher reports to me and they chose not to. I would like to point out that this statement is disingenuous since the district undoubtedly would have claimed I am an uncooperative parent had I refused. I also would like to state for the record that I interpret the case manager’s statement to mean that it is my choice whether I provide a copy of my concerns and that the district will not claim that I am uncooperative if in the future I refuse to provide a copy and that if the case manager disagrees with this interpretation she should advise me of the district’s disagreement in writing within ten calendar days.”
“I would also like to point out that advocating for my son is not bullying, even if involves pointing out the districts violations of IDEA, N.J. Special Administrative Code, FERPA, and the N.J. Pupil Records Act, contacting the agencies which enforce the laws and regulations., and pointing out the district’s fiscal consequences of the district’s decisions. I believe that this incident at the meeting constituted retaliation against me for engaging in the protected action of advocacy for my child with a disability. I believe this statement was unprofessional and defamatory and also stated in front of my nine year old child. I would like to point out that this meeting was taped and all statements are on audiotape.”
“This is not the first time that district personnel has threatened and attempted to intimidate and patronize me. I have been called at my home by my son’s aide in first grade stating that the school staff was angry that I was fighting them on my son’s program and that they were intending on calling DYFS on me. I did in fact have DYFS at my home after that occasion. I have had the board attorney present at my meeting creating an adversarial environment and therefore trying to intimidate me. I was told not to bring an advocate to my meetings and that if I need support that the learning consultant will sit next to me “to hold my hand”. I have documentation and audiotapes that will verify all of the above mentioned.”
“I am requesting a copy of the district’s procedures for filing an unprofessional conduct complaint and a torts claim notice. Please also provide me with the procedures for filing a complaint against the learning consultant’s professional license.”
I wondered how he would respond. After all I had indisputable evidence. Besides a long paper trail I also had it all on audiotape.
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT