Talk About It

Today was the IEP meeting with the Monster’s new team at the Mount Washington School.  We’re about six weeks into the school year, and it’s clear that we needed a checkup for the implementation of the program.  The Monster is just not making much progress and that spells trouble.

So, first thought – going to the school is a lot different than when we used to go to Garrett Heights EMS.  Aside from the fact that the office is literally right inside the main door, I was actually greeted by name by the woman at the desk, even as I was signing in.  (Scary – that they know who’s expected for an appointment.)  

By the time everyone arrived – the general and special educators, the psychologist, the IEP chair, the SLP, the OT, my wife and myself, our advocate – in the vice-principal’s office, it was a very cozy gathering.  (For future reference – we need to find a better solution for R.  He was not cooperative.)  The conversation was somewhat lukewarm, and then got chillier when we were invited to address our specific concerns immediately about matters at the school.  Because…  as you know, when you’re having one of these meetings, it really is more about the parents’ complaints about where the school is falling short.

We brought up the concern that he’s not making progress, which was our biggest issue.  And the teachers all agreed that he’s not.  We did have a back-and-forth about briefly how the IEP has “very lofty goals” and how they were written by a different team in a different environment, which is great… until you realize that not everything’s apples-to-oranges with his IEP.  That when he was pulled out for speech therapy at GHEMS, for instance, it was also a small group (2-3 people)  like it is at MWS.  And the root of the issue, as the group agreed fairly quickly (shockingly so, to me) is that the Monster is not getting enough attention.  He went from a class of twelve students to one with twenty-two, and from four adult staff in the room to one.

The gentleman from the central office agreed – very quickly – that we need to have a ‘technical assistance’ evaluation to find out if they need to assign him a one-on-one, and even agreed that it sounds very much like he does.  We asked how long it would take to do this, and his comment?  “Well, we can expedite it.  And I wouldn’t be mentioning that if I wasn’t planning on doing so.”  No concrete word on when we’ll have that done, but that’s the process and it sounds like it should be fairly quickly accomplished.

The team, and not we, suggested adding in more social goals for him with an eye towards trying to teach the Monster to establish more “equal” friendships.  Getting his special-education upped from thrice a week for half an hour, to an hour daily?  Done, and more so with discretion for the special educator to decide on a given day if it was better to do push-in or pull-out services with him.  A request to have the specialists visit him at off-schedule to see if they get different results with him at a different time of day?  They’re willing to do it.  Or that the school’s not sending home copies of texts – as required by the IEP – because of a lack of materials?  (The books in question are shared among several classes, and they only have one copy.)  We’re working out a system to either send the book home, and have us return it the next day when it’s used, or get us photocopies.

At every turn, we found *gasp* that the IEP staff at this school is entirely willing to work with us.  No one pushed back in a manner that said, “we cannot do X.”  And it was fabulous.

In fact, the only thing I’m really upset about, coming out of the IEP, is a statement from the chair (who did very little speaking, in fact, and mostly spent her time minutes-taking) that her policy is to give the teachers copies of the IEPs on the first day of school.  Our advocate, who is also the one who nominated me for PCAB, informed me that there is no city-wide policy regarding IEP distribution, and that this is normal.  Methinks we need to fix this.

Of course, as we know, the test is where the rubber meets the road.  We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks vis-a-vis implementation.

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