“Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less; our kids, their rights, or an email from S.D.” ~apologies to Susan B. Anthony
A dear friend is dealing with her child’s first Individualized Education Plan (IEP). They had a good meeting, great things were put in the IEP … and none are coming to fruition. Delays, excuses, crap.
All of Pearlsky’s IEPs have specified a nurse is to be in the school at all times and until recently, on her school bus as well. Since the high school is all of four blocks from the house, I have said having just her aide on the bus works.
Back in 1999 the nursing staff was playing games. There were multiple days when I would get a call at 6:30 in the morning telling me the nurse could not make it that day, hence Pearlsky and her brother had to stay home. This got to be tiring real fast since her mom and I sort of needed to make a living as well. Frustrated, I researched my rights and hence, an email to the superintendent of schools and the puke person in his office in charge of special education.
I just had a conversation with Ms. B.W., the Liaison of the Day at the State’s Department of Education. Based on my conversation I understand that I can file a complaint with the department because of potential violation of the regulations. I have not done this at this time.
In the [state law reference], paragraph 2, subsection D, paragraph 2 states:
2. The school district shall not delay implementation of the IEP due to lack of classroom space or personnel, shall provide as many of the services on the accepted IEP as possible and shall immediately inform the parent in writing of any delayed services, reasons for delay, actions that the school district is taking to address the lack of space or personnel and shall offer alternative methods to meet the goals on the accepted IEP. Upon agreement of the parent, the school district shall implement alternative methods immediately until the lack of space or personnel issues are resolved.
I have been made aware that if their investigation finds that my children have indeed been denied services because of personnel issues, or lack there of, that they are entitled to “compensatory services.”
My wife and I prefer not to file a formal complaint with the department but that preference is greatly overshadowed by our desire for our children to be given what is rightfully theirs, a proper education.
By the way, are they going to school tomorrow? Monday?
The response was two fold. First, miraculously, there were no more missed days. Second, they started the summer program a week early, just for my children, with full services, hence five replacement days of school.
We all get nervous about “making waves” or “needing them on our side” or whatever. By some bizarre twist of the human mind, I am told by many that I actually have the respect of most (yeah, not all) of the school district. Yes, I go crazy sometimes, or a bit overboard, but first, not via personal attacks, and second, I can usually point out why it is so major (i.e.: make them see Pearlsky’s point of view, not mine, not theirs). In this example, it is purely an effort to get them to live up to their legal responsibility. I always try to quote and reference the law if in fact it is on Pearlsky’s side. Otherwise, make it up and make it sound like the law, the odds are they won’t look it up!
Advocate, advocate, advocate. And don’t worry about waves. Just like bubbles in the bath, sometimes it is fun to make waves.
Spicy as you are, SD, I think it’s crystal clear that you are looking out for the best interest of your kid AND you listen despite having your strong opinions. School districts prefer dialogue, however heated, to getting sued and so your friend should not be afraid of speaking up! For the first couple of years, I was just so grateful for ANY services for my son, I didn’t question anything and was afraid to. But now I understand that it’s important to speak up because if we all want to be doing a better job, including me, including other parents, including the district’s handling of other kids’ IEPs, we each have to be held accountable for our promises and responsibilities.
You should write a book on how to advocate for special needs kids.