Special Education/assessments and plans
I am writing about my son who had a difficult year in school and experienced tremendous regression. The reason he was able to pass his subjects is from my assistance. I don't like the position I was put in as a parent because I can't prove that the school didn't educate him (though I did save all the work I did and the work sent home was largely incomplete). I wonder if other parents are in my shoes. Do you or don't you help your own child? The school agreed to conduct an functional assessment with behavior plan and it would've been warranted had they not agreed. They did do the assessment but never sent it to us. They said our son was too variable for an assessment. They said the various strategies they were implementing were sufficient. The fact that his IEP specified the assessment and plan didn't seem to matter to them and their position was that what they were doing amounted to a plan, even though it failed. I did call the state but they didn't seem too interested and told me I could file a compliance complaint if I wanted to. Does filing a compliance complaint actually do anything? I feel like the school will stick to its position they did all they could and implemented all these strategies (failed) that they excluded parents from (and excluded themselves from review as well). Naturally their "solution" is to move my son to another school. I do not understand the legalities surrounding the assessment and plan, why have it in a contract if the school can then turn around and do it, not give it to you and say it's not appropriate anymore because the behaviors are too variable and the strategies they've in place are a de facto plan and sufficient. I spoke to an advocate who said this was madness but that doesn't really help me. Obviously I wish I was dealing with better people. They hold me in low regard and the feeling is mutual but I know I am not the only person in this position. When you complain, suddenly the school speaks with "one voice" even if individual people tell you different things in private about what would work better. I actually had a situation where my son's speech therapist very hotly criticized the school and then at a meeting said she didn't say any of that stuff. I was very angry and I acted a little inappropriately but it was shocking at the time. Now I know I really cannot trust people whose jobs are on the line. Do you have any advice? You seem compassionate and know the law and I can use as much as counsel as I can get. I hope I have been clear. An assessment was done, it was not given to us until the year was over. The reason cited was that it was not good because our son's behavior and performance had changed and was quite variable. As for the behavior plan, they said the strategies they had in place were a behavior plan. The assessment and plan were in his IEP as slated to be done for the past school year. The choices they've left me are a self contained class that I do not think is appropriate and an alternative ADHD school placement which may not be bad but I feel it's too far away for consideration. My son is a terrible sleeper and terrible at getting up for school as it is (chronic lateness was a problem). If I didn't believe he could succeed I wouldn't be writing you. He never had much in the way of smart accommodations, access to technology and an evaluation/plan that I think could be adjusted as the situation changes. I do not understand this process and feel the school is running over me.
I will need a bit more time to answer this question...I'll get back to you very soon
After re-reading your question I want to let you know that you are not alone in this. The abysmal actions of the District are not uncommon nor are they expected to get any better any time soon. The reality of the educational problems that face not only students without special needs but are compounded for those who do.
The problem is not in the law but in how the school has decided to circumvent those laws. The solution to your situation may be worse then some alternatives I want to mention. First of all you need to decide how far you are willing to go and at what expense you are willing to shell out in the defense of your son? The other issue is the districts apparent strong arming of its employees and their coordination of not only personnel but the very real possibility of fabricated paperwork to bolster their position.
You need to remember that you're ultimately responsible for your son's education. This may sound a bit harsh but in view of what your dealing with and the inability of your district faltering in their responsibility the only person left is you.
You could fight them in court but there is no guarantee that you will win and even if you do you will working with a hostile educational partner that will circumvent your wishes at the law at almost every bend of that legal road. The teachers will be instructed (not directly) to only do what is lawfully required and in the end you will be right back where you started.
This is a very sad statement regarding our educational system but it is the reality. You could get an advocate or a lawyer and fight but like I said you may end up right back where you are now.
Here are some alternatives that may help. Depending on where you live look for a charter school. They may have less special needs programs but their philosophy and teachers may be more in line with your child's needs. Charter schools are public so they are 100% free...
Private schools also may be an alternative but the cost will be significant in most cases. Home schooling and partnering with other parents in similar situations may be an option as well. You can even coop with other parents to self teach and monitor the specific needs of each student with that coop.
The first step however is to remain calm and in all cases call for another IEP. Get some advise on what to ask for and how far to go during that IEP. Determine the resources of the district in relation to other students like your son and model your approach to what they have already given to others.
Maintaining the IEP is very important and even if your not with the district they are responsible until you have an alternate plan. Get together with other parents with special needs students and ask them for advise on how to proceed.
This is the hardest part of all...be very congenial when making requests of the district. At present they hold all the cards and even some they do not want to give you and the only way to open up that deck of cards is to act (not be) in such a manner that they want to give you what you need.
I know this is a lot to take in but your first concern is your son. Even though the district has done you and your son wrong (I think it's obvious) and acted in bad faith and even illegally perhaps the pressure will be upon you to prove their negligence.
Act nice, be smart and increase your educational options ....
Please let me know how things are going.