Free And Appropriate Impacts

I’ll be writing about our weekend over the coming days – I just need to have some time to get a few more photos taken and to collect my notes, and then I’ll be getting that cranked out.

This morning, though, was my meeting with the Monster’s providers.  With the bus problems last week, and my irate emails to the school system, his IEP coordinator asked me to come in this morning to discuss the implementation of FAPE vis-a-vis his education.

IDEA requires FAPE – a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” – as one of its central tenets.  Obviously, his being late to school or having issues with being dropped off are going to be problems, but from where I sat, there was really nothing that the school itself can do about the issue.  The problem lies with the Baltimore City Public Schools and their ability (or willingness) to enforce contracts with their providers.

I had no idea why his IEP coordinator asked me to come in for an “FAPE meeting”, or what she could possibly do, but I agreed because I genuinely like his therapists and teacher (and the IEP coordinator).

So the positives: I still like his therapists and teacher. And even his IEP coordinator.  They all love the Monster, and I do think that after a year of my being contentious with them that we’re all on the same page and trying to make sure that the process works for him in a way that will hopefully get him caught up.

The negative:  They really can’t do anything to help.

The purpose of the meeting ended up being two-fold – first to assess that they want to change parts of the IEP to acknowledge the progress he’s made since February and add in some new, more difficult goals. Second, we tried to assess what impact, if any, the bussing problems had on his learning and delivery of services.

And in the end, begrudgingly, I had to agree that there’s no FAPE issue here.  The Monster was late 10% of the time to school due to the bus.  (He did miss services on one occasion due to another, unrelated absence – he had an all-day developmental screening at Kennedy Krieger – but those services were made up at another date.)  But his services are sufficiently late in the day that the bus’ lateness didn’t cause him to miss therapy appointments, and he’s sufficiently independent/resilient that his special educator did not observe issues with integration with the group when he arrived in the middle of tasks.

On the other hand, I brought up the issue of the revolving door vis-a-vis the aides… and was informed that the IEP coordinator has actually complained frequently to the city about the policy.  The aides are from an agency, and that agency does not see fit to really keep the same aides – even one-on-ones – with the same classes consistently, which not only makes life more difficult for the special educator in charge of the Monster’s class, but complicates helping the kids out when the aides are constantly having to be re-taught what each child needs.  The productive takeaway here is that I now have the name of the person at the central office to contact with my complaint, and I’m going to lend my weight to their issue with getting this resolved.

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