This Year’s Finish Line

IEPAnd now, the explanation for why I’ve been so quiet.

Two months ago, I last posted about the IEP process (see IEP Year Four) and where it had gotten to… and then I promptly got very, very quiet about the process.  Yes, other things happened in the meantime – my wife and I went on vacation, and then I went off to curling trials, but my posting hadn’t come back up to normal frequency.

That’s because things went absolutely sideways after our last IEP meeting.

When we left off at the last IEP meeting, we had gotten to the point of “agreeing to disagree”, as the referenced post mentions.  We had been promised that we would get a copy of the IEP for us to review as required by the law – that they’d send it to us electronically while my wife and I were away – and that we’d get back together in short order to figure out the end-game before the end of the school year.

The end of the school year came and went without resolution… and without a copy of the IEP.  Multiple requests for the IEP to be sent to us went unanswered.  (To be fair, the principal responded that we would get a copy at one point, but it never materialized.)

My wife and I started to push far, far harder about an IEP date, on the advice of our advocate, but on the sole condition that we were also given all of the relevant documents at least three business days prior to any meeting, including the IEP.  The contact from the IEP team agreed that was fair, and a meeting was set for June 23rd (the week after school ended) in the interests of getting the placement decision done and for the IEP to be finalized.  However, by the evening of June 19th, the city had not sent us any documentation, and as good as our word, we canceled the meeting for failure of the school system to provide us the required documentation.  The process repeated itself, with us requesting a new IEP meeting date – set for July 9th – with the same stipulation that we receive all documents at least three business days prior to the meeting.  We did, finally, get a copy of the IEP, though lacking 3 pages, though we knew the missing content already, based on the audio recording of our May meeting.  (It’s kind of obvious something’s missing when the last page is marked “Page 43 of 46”.)

Now, you’re saying to yourself, gentle readers, that the city couldn’t possibly be more stupid than that.  You’re saying it, but we all know that clearly, since I’d not written since then… they were.

On the morning of July 8th, it occurred to us that we had not gotten our written notice of the meeting, with the list of the individuals who were to be present.  We began pushing again – my wife with the school’s IEP chair, and me with the coordinator from the city.  My wife managed to get the list from the IEP chair, only to find that the central-office based team had arranged for the school board’s attorney to be present.  Clearly, someone wanted to pull a fast one on us.  Given this, we rescinded our waiver of the ten day advance notice and required the city to schedule the meeting once more – this time in full accordance with the law, without any variation.  (Meaning: ten days advance written notice for the meeting, and all documents to us five days in advance, to allow us time to have counsel present and properly informed.)  My wife and I hired an attorney for the Monster, and prepared to go to war with the schools.

A third attempt at the IEP meeting was scheduled for this morning, and while we did not (again) receive sufficient written advance notice, it was enough time for us to arrange to have the attorney and our educational consultant present, and we were comfortable enough – after a conversation between the attorneys over the phone in advance – to proceed with the meeting, so we can get the Monster into an appropriate placement before the school year starts.

The crux of the matter is this – we’ve given the school every benefit of the doubt already in handling his placements.  On their advice, we moved the Monster into a mainstreamed classroom, where his progress has dropped to zero.  He is falling further behind in terms of his communication and academic skills, and the window’s swiftly closing for us to fix the communication problem so that he can catch up with the rest.  The IEP meeting in May increased his speech-and-language therapy to five hours a week, while acknowledging that a general education environment was doing little good for him… but the question was where would he end up for next year?  Would he be in a self-contained classroom?  A specialized program for students with Autism?  Private placement at a school that specializes in communications?

As of this morning, for SY 2015-2016, the Monster has been moved to private placement.  We don’t yet know which school in specific – there’s a process that still has to be followed, with the public schools team reaching out to the private schools – but he’s being moved to a private school that can properly concentrate on his ability to communicate.

We now have a few weeks to figure out what school he’ll be attending at the end of August, and we have the ball rolling in that regard.  Fortunately, we’ve already visited two of the candidate schools and received pre-admit decisions – which we did inform the team of – so hopefully, this will go more quickly from here.

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