Remember when I said, "I'm wondering if they are pretending ignorance just to be able to fuck with me, guaranteeing I have no weapons to fight with and guaranteeing they get their way, or if they really don't know what our rights are (I don't even know which one would be worse)"? Yeah, I know the answer now.
I think I went a little backward in finding stuff. But, then again, if I hadn't started where I started, I probably wouldn't have understood what I finally found.
I started with IDEA and Section 504. With 2 out of 5 kids having an IEP and a third having a 504 with the possibility of a future IEP, that sounds like a logical place to start. IDEA requires states to have a Compliance Plan, which is why Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was next on my list. After that, I took a very quick glance at No Child Left Behind.
After the conversation with Goofy's principal, I was angry. I checked out one school district online, looking for policies and found a piece what I was looking for. Then I was really angry. I wrote an e-mail to district administration. I saved it to drafts. I calmed down and re-read it and knew I couldn't send that one. I needed to send something but didn't know where to even start. That's when I found Wrightslaw's Letter to a Stranger. After reading that, I rewrote my letter. Put it away. Re-read it. Edited. Put it away. Re-read it... you get the point. I had decided Tuesday was my deadline. That gives 7 days until our meeting and I can't afford to put it off any longer. I asked friends to look at it, I edited.
Monday night, I tossed and turned, feeling horrible. Should I send it or not? I tried to weigh the worth against the cost, tried to consider the possibilities and potential misunderstandings that lead to this, tried to look at all points of view, trying to see if there was any other way. I thought back over all that had happened so far and I don't even know. I gave up on sleep and went to find more information.
I couldn't find anything. I didn't know where to look or what I was looking for. I went to the Regular School District's website and that's where I found the school improvement plan. One of the goals:
"Response to Intervention (RtI) will be fully implemented with fidelity at all schools." Hm. "fidelity." I love definitions. Fidelity: the degree of exactness with which something is copied or reproduced. So, RtI is supposed to be the same in all schools in this district? I wonder how that's going...
All schools will follow common procedures in data analysis, data team meetings, core instruction, Tier II and Tier III interventions. -fully implemented.
"We don't collect data on everyone," she said. "We call it RtI, but it's not really RtI," she said. "There's nothing saying we have to do RtI at all," she said. She lied. On purpose. Talk about *freight train.* Call me naïve, but I didn't really see that one coming. I suspected, but I didn't honestly believe. I thought the deception came from a place of ignorance, not malicious intent.
and so, Tuesday morning, I sat at my computer and re-read the e-mail again. I made sure I was clear and that a stranger (which district administration would be) could understand where we've been and why I am asking for help. I asked for representation due to inferences of predetermination, I asked for data and records, I asked for clarification on district policy, and I asked what my rights are to disagree with and challenge the team's decision.
I thought about what I hope to accomplish with this. Salvaging the relationship is most likely not possible, and honestly, not high on my list of priorities. There are many on the team that I like well enough, even if they did annoy me at some point. Hell, my kids and my husband annoy me daily and I still like them just fine. How well I like the people is not even a factor, not something I'm looking to accomplish.
What do I want?
1. I want to be an equal, active, and fully informed member of the Goofy Child's team.
2. I want a fair, unbiased evaluation that relies more on data and information than professional judgment.
3. I want a free appropriate public education with the placement, services, accommodations, and modifications necessary for him get meaningful benefit from classroom instruction.
4. I want my voice heard, but not to be so loud that I drown out the other members' voices. I need them as much as they need me.
I made sure, looking over my e-mail that what I had to say was relevant to these goals and used facts. I made sure what I was asking for was clearly stated, and that I asked politely for records and data and information and a representative of each district.
and then I sent it.
I finally got a response. (I say finally as if less than 36 hours was such a long time, lol) and it gets good... good as in SOMEONE up there has a sense of humor. The very nice man agreed to go to the meeting with me. Period. and this is where I have to put my face in my hands, let out a laugh and ask God if he's serious. I send an e-mail back asking for data and records...again.