It’s the end of another school year, and here we are, going over the Monster’s IEP yet again, evaluating which goals he succeeded at meeting, which ones he made progress on, and which ones are abject failures.
I know it’s really hard to squeeze out time to make these meetings work. He’s one child out of twenty-five in his general education class, and heaven knows how many other schools his specialists get to during the day. His IEP chairperson’s time is split between two different schools, and the meeting protocols require having an administrator and school psychologist present as well. Further, someone from the central office has to come as an education/placement consultant, and since we’re discussing changing placement next year, there’s also the problem of having someone from that program at the meeting…
And being part of an IEP team can be a very thankless job.
But we, the parents, are also part of the team… supposedly. It’s hard to see that sometimes.
We’re left in the dark about meetings until the last possible minute. We’re told that we’ll get all of the assessments and reports with time to spare, and then get asked to waive our rights to have time to review them “in the interest of getting the meeting done”. We’re told, rather than asked, that a meeting’s going to happen in five days when the law requires ten days’ notice, and we’re expected to not only make our schedules work around the school’s, but to keep our (not-cheap) advocate ready on short notice to meet. We’re told that we can visit a program that he might get sent to, and then told there are “privacy concerns” and we can’t.
Frankly… if we’re “part of the team”, we’re not being treated like equal partners, which is a problem.
I know that a lot of parents here just roll over and do what the team wants… if they show up to meetings. I know of another family at our school who got so frustrated trying to balance what their child needed with what their child needs to be happy and successful that they’ve chosen to send their child to a private school next year. I know of families throughout the district – and across the country – who feel like they’re being dictated to, rather than offered supports. “Take what we give you and like it,” seems to be the message.
We’re not those parents.
We’re part of the IEP team, like it or not. And we’re going to fiercely advocate for our son, like it or not, and we’re going to make sure he gets the supports he needs to succeed.
Better get used to that now.
The worst part is that it’s not the whole team that I’m complaining about. The Monster’s teachers (both gen-ed and special-ed) recognize that the school he’s at is the wrong placement. His school-based SLP and OT both agree with his private SLP and OT that he needs more and different supports than he’s getting. The administrators of the school agree… it’s just the rest of the system that’s holding us up, from an IEP chair who can’t be bothered to communicate with us, to central office personnel who all-but ignore us.
The point of the IEP process is to do what is best for the child. Most of our team has this in mind… I just wish the rest did.
As I write this, we’re waiting for an email – now forty minutes overdue – with a new IEP meeting date, since the meeting was supposed to be tomorrow (the report from the proposed program wasn’t ready), and we were asked to waive our rights to proper notice to hold a replacement meeting on Monday. (I already said no to that.) I’m not holding out much hope at this point that I won’t be calling the office of Special Education tomorrow to lodge a formal protest.
If you do not receive the observation report tomorrow, I strongly suggest that you file a complaint with the due process office. Seek out Ruth Lafontaine in this office. She will get results for you.
Shockingly, we actually got the observation reports. I’m giving them till the end of today (Wednesday) before I go to the Due Process office over not getting a new IEP date…
The wife and I miss having you on the team. 🙁
Please have your advocate bring up the discussion of FAPE at his next IEP meeting in the event that the annual review was not held within a timely manner. This means that your son may be entitled to compensatory services if it can be determined that he was educationally harmed by not having this meeting in a timely manner. Baltimore City provides compensatory services in the form of tutoring by having a teacher work with your son at home. If your son is going to be recommended for services in a setting other than the one he currently has, he should receive comp services.
In the future, I would be willing to serve as your advocate if given timely notice. I know the advocate you are using. Yet, I would not charge you for my advocacy. Also, I understand that your son was given another psychological assessment. How he did on this assessment will be critical in terms of whether or not he would meet the criteria for the high functioning autism classroom that the school system may be establishing for elementary students. Based upon my own observation of your son and in reviewing his records, I believe that he will meet the eligibility requirements for this setting. Finally, please make sure that the IEP team discusses ESY at this meeting, if the team has not already done so. I hope you have a productive IEP meeting. Thank you.
When I was a public school teacher at an inner city school, I was periodically asked to sit in on such meetings. Some were very poorly run and I wondered why the parents weren’t more upset.
We talk about this a lot at home. I think – honestly – that a lot of parents don’t realize they have rights.
I mean, yeah, we do get the booklet every time paperwork gets sent home. But I think that a lot of parents either don’t read the rights book, don’t have the time to be participants, or are so overwhelmed that they’re not thinking straight about what their child needs and what would be best for them. It’s sad… but it’s the way it seems to go.
Though, as the IEP chair at the Monster’s prior school pointed out – in our school district, more than half of the parents don’t even show up for IEP meetings. :-/ That’s the other side of the problem.