Question as a special education parent

Discussion in 'General Education' started by gr3teacher, Oct 7, 2017.

  1. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oct 7, 2017

    Alright special education teachers and those familiar with the process, help me out here. I have a situation I'm not happy about, but I'm leery about raising too big a stink.

    Long story short, my daughter's IEP says that she is in a self-contained setting for all academic areas, and joins her general ed peers for lunch, recess, and specials. She had a mostly-successful first three weeks of school, and at our Back to School Night, the teacher mentioned that she might be trying to ease her back into the general education classroom, but she would let us know before doing anything, and we would have the opportunity to sign off on a "trial run."

    Fast forward to Tuesday, when I'm looking through my daughter's communication log, and it occurs to me that about a week ago, her teacher had mentioned having a successful time in reading and morning meeting in the general education class. I write a note asking if that was a one-time thing, or if she was regularly attending reading and morning meeting in the general education classroom. As it turns out, for the past two weeks, she has not been in the self-contained setting. At all.

    Now, on one hand, I'm happy that she is successful in the general education setting. That's ultimately where I want her to be, and if she's there sooner than I thought, that's terrific.

    On the other hand, that's a two week period that my daughter's IEP was not followed, and we weren't given any sort of written notice. I mean... if they had asked, I'd have gladly given permission to try her in general ed for a week or two, but instead it feels like they just decided they didn't need to follow her IEP anymore.

    Truth be told, I'm kind of furious, but at the same time, the point of special education is to eventually not need special education, so if she's making it in the general ed classroom with IA support, that's good. Am I making too big a deal about this?

    Just to add context to this, last year (at a different school within the same district as part of the special ed preschool program) they tried to play games with special education law. They scheduled a meeting at a time when they knew I wouldn't be available, and pressured my significant other to attend. When I told her to attend but not to sign the IEP until I had a chance to review it, they tried multiple times to pressure my significant other into signing, and added a somewhat nasty note on the PLOP page (Mrs. gr3teacher has indicated that she is not allowed to sign the IEP without her husband's approval). They also tried to tell her that our daughter would not be able to attend our base school (for reference here, if I took her to the hill outside my house and gave her a gentle push on a sled, she would slide through the front entrance of our base school), and would instead need to go to a school on the opposite side of the county because, "the special education program at this school is full." Interestingly enough, within 90 minutes of me calling them with the exact IDEA regulation they were proposing they break, "another student moved" and there would be room for her after all. They also wrote a really, really bad IEP. I had to rewrite the goals myself to actually include some method of tracking progress on the goals, and they gave me about ten minutes notice that they would be calling me during my lunch break to talk about her IEP and resolve differences (after I had given them a list of at least three times daily for a three week period where I would be available by phone). So... there's already some angry feelings between me and my daughter's district, and I'm a little touchy about IDEA violations.
     
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  3. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Companion

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    Oct 7, 2017

    Your DD's district sounds a lot like the one I was in as a child. I know the frustration of trying to balance the law violations against the blow-back. You're not crazy to be upset. The school went behind your back and defied the law and your DD being ok doesn't undo the breach of trust.
    They had no right to alter your child's placement without signed approval from parent and IEP team. The IEP meeting is supposed to have 7 days notice unless it's an emergency as well, but that's guideline and not law.

    If I were you, I'd be hedging my bets and preparing for a fight while trying to smooth things over. Document, document, document, and find an advocate who can attend meetings with you. The school will fight you on that, but you're legally entitled to an advocate and it's another witness. If you have an ROE, it might be worth dropping in on them to see what they have to say. Tell the school that while you're pleased that DD has been doing well, her placement/services are not to be altered without your permission, in accordance with the law. They don't want to deal with you because you know what's not legal, so make it in their best interest to comply with the law. If they're the kind of people who will cut off their nose to spite their face, I hate to say it, but look into other schools because you and your family don't want 12 years of this.
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    You need to make them aware that they are in violation of the IEP and it will not be tolerated. Of course, do so diplomatically. Sadly you are probably already labeled as a problem parent based on what the previous school included on an IEP which is so out of line.

    I'm not asking for why your child has an IEP. Forgive me if I am incorrect. Pull out for all academics is rarely done lightly, but is done more often in elementary. There was sufficient information to have full pull-out which tells me that academically your child needs more support than can be provided in the general education classroom or behaviorally your child needs support. So, what does "doing well" mean? It depends on the reason for the IEP. If it behavioral and your child is adjusting and truly interacting appropriately, gen ed might work. If it is also for academics, I'd be really questioning what "doing well" means. Is your child really learning from the class or just not causing behavioral problems?

    The other thing I would be concerned about is how many minutes and your child is losing by the transport from the pull out classroom to the gen ed classroom and then back again. Also, who is with her to give her her allotted special education minutes?

    I'm sorry you have had a bad experience already. I'm not surprised though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    She is (was) in a self-contained setting because of behavior and communication difficulties. She has a medical diagnosis of autism, and had a difficult year last year in preschool, but the sections of the IQ testing that she actually attempted came out in the 120s. Academically, she's more or less where you'd expect a pretty smart kindergartner with communication issues to be; she's doing great in math and can already count to 100, and recognize numbers up to 500. Language Arts she's a little delayed, but that's not unexpected. They moved her (presumably) because she wasn't showing some of her behaviors, which is a good thing. It's not the placement that I'm upset about; if they aren't seeing behaviors that would require them to pull her out of the classroom, then she's almost certainly doing fine there; it's the lack of notification.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    I realize that it is not the placement that is an issue for you but the lack of notification or sign-on. I just warn about the "doing well" when it seems they have a mission even before they really knew your daughter and how well she is really doing with the communication. I've seen far too many kids not get what they really needed because they appeared to be "doing well" when the school had an agenda. When they don't get proper instruction meeting their true needs because they are in a class that is not necessarily set up to really work on their goals, then they run into a brick wall later and it seems out of the blue.

    I did not think for one moment that your child was not bright. I suspected it was autism based on previous posts you had made.
     
  7. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Sometimes, it's okay to have the "problem parent" label because when it comes to your kid, you have to be in their corner. Always. I would give some push back about the lack of communication. Sometimes, a trail run of a placement or accommodation is great before it's written into the IEP just to avoid having to meet constantly. But any of those trails should be communicated clearly with documented progress or lack thereof. If they are willing to completely change her placement and not tell you, what other liberties will they take down the road?
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    That all depends on what a school does with problem parents. Sadly, I've seen it be taken out on the student. Our district lost a suit because of this behavior. Sometimes they lie and inflate grades to avoid conflict when a child is not progressing.
     
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  9. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    I, too, have seen this. Far too often, schools don't want to deal with problematic parents, so they'll do whatever it takes to avoid them.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Believe me, I know what can happen to "problem parents." That's why I'm trying to avoid being seen that way. It's just kind of soul crushing that expecting the school to obey the law could easily be enough to get me that label if I'm not diplomatic enough.
     
  11. Been There

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    I think it's awfully hard for a bunch of strangers in this forum to give good advice without having reviewed your daughter's special education file. If you have serious concerns about the school staff following proper protocol, you may want to schedule an appointment with the Director of Special Education who has the authority to make it happen.
     
  12. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    My district follows special ed law religiously, so I'm not used to districts that don't. However....my thought here would be that if they are looking to change her least restrictive environment from self contained to gen ed, they might be trying to collect data for this change. I know the self contained teacher at our school will try a student in gen ed with a para and monitor how long the student can stay without X behavior, participation during large & small group, etc... Maybe that's what they're doing here?

    I still would wonder how her IEP minutes are being met at the moment, but I would just ask her self contained teacher what her IEP minutes look like if she's in the gen ed room more now, and ask to schedule a meeting to change her LRE.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    But you are in a position to either accept what they do or become a problem to them by making them follow the law and/or give your child what she needs. There is rarely a middle ground. Some schools are bent on doing things the way they want to do it which is most often a procedure or process where they try to figure out where to shove your child in their process not give the child what she needs.

    Yes, it is soul crushing.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    Nope, nope, nope. Do not change LRE at this time. Find an interim solution because there may be much more to her communication issue than is apparent at this time. Getting to self-contained for academics might be near impossible once they are convinced she can function in gen ed classes. As I know you know, functioning and learning are two different things. If you want to sign a trial period, make sure it is followed up with some quality assessment rather than just classwork and opinion. Both of those can be fudged.
     
  15. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    I guess I would go about handling it this way. I'd email the principal, sped director, sped teacher, and gen ed teacher to let them know that you're happy with your child's progress. I'd also let them know that, should they be considering changes in the future, you'd like them to notify you before any changes are implemented. Try to keep it diplomatic. Don't threaten them with your knowledge of the law and your awareness that they didn't follow it. Just let them know that you're expecting better communication from them the next time, as any parent would when a child's educational plan is being changed - sped or not.
     
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  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I like this approach. I would also add in a question about her IEP minutes as PP suggested, along with a request to see their observational data from the gen ed classroom.
     
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  17. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    This approach puts them on notice, but in a way that is non-confrontational. Keep good documentation about what was done and that they didn't get sign-off before doing it.
     
  18. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Oct 11, 2017

    Yeah, save threats and outrage for when it truly becomes necessary or urgent.

    Your district is likely cash strapped. Am I correct? Most districts aren't funded well enough to handle special education needs, after all. This gives way to the common practice of moving children into the general education setting, because it is far cheaper to process children through the machine with more children per room.

    This practice may be working for or against your child.

    I have seen children in special education classes exposed to severely troubled children and behaviors no one should be exposed to. Getting these "good" children out of the self-contained classroom is often a blessing.

    I have seen troubled children whose behaviors are so outrageous that no other child should be exposed to them, yet these troubled children are thrown into the general classrooms to "prove" progress is being made by way of doctored behavior metrics. I have seen these troubled children moved to the general classroom to ease pressure off special education staff. I have seen these troubled children put into general education classrooms as a weapon, to undermine and abuse certain classroom teachers.

    You have to honestly assess where your child is according to needs before assigning meaning to placement in a general classroom setting. The IEP is often a stagnating collection of ideas and suggestions that over time may or may not be applicable to a child's current needs. An honest assessment of your child's placement should take precedence over the IEP. That said, it is entirely possible the IEP is relevant and accurate, but the district is moving students to promote its own selfish interests.

    I am inclined to fault the district, given the duplicity you've described. The lack of communication is telling. While I understand why they are doing certain things, the nature of the beast provides me adequate reason to doubt the district's underlying commitment to their children. I would approach their every recommendation with caution.

    In general, there is reason enough to distrust everything any district does with regard to special education. Then again, even the selfish reasons they do things may work in your child's best interest. It is up to you as the parent to honestly evaluate the needs of your child and, if necessary, allow the district some leeway in servicing their student. Certainly, if they are acting contrary to your child's needs, especially to the point of causing undue stress or hardship, set them straight in short order!

    While it doesn't seem you actually need the advice, never be afraid to advocate for your child in the face of a system that would otherwise just chew them up and spit them out—but do be cautious at first, because things could work out for the best, after all.
     
  19. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I just found out today that they not only aren't putting her in the special education setting, but they aren't even providing her with service of any sort. She gets an IA with her for specials (which, ironically enough, is the one time of day her IEP DOESN'T call for special ed support), and then they are "on call" in the event of a meltdown. I have never in my life been so furious, nor has it ever occurred to me that a school could be in such flagrant disregard of an child's rights. As both a special education teacher and a general education teacher, I have always done my best to uphold the IEP fully, and whenever I deviated from the IEP in any way, I did it for the benefit of the child and with the advanced knowledge of the parents. Finding out how completely opposite this school is makes me legitimately heartbroken for the children that attend there.
     
  20. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    With the added bonus that her case manager had absolutely no idea what I was talking about when I asked to see the observational data she had collected so far (she has both a social skills goal and a behavior goal where all data is supposed to be collected through observational data, for obvious reasons).
     
  21. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Gr3teacher, I'm sorry, but that entire situation is ridiculous. If you haven't already, it's time to go to the director of special services for the district. There is zero reason your child, or any child, should not be receiving their legal services.
     
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