Last Monday was the Goofy Child's Review of Existing Data meeting. The meeting to determine if he should be evaluated. Both my brother's surgery and Goofy's meeting were scheduled for Monday morning around the same time. Since I had been with my brother all weekend, I felt that I wasn't really prepared for the meeting but I was also mostly in crisis mode so I wasn't worried about it until the time that all was ready, all was in order, there was nothing left to do but wait. Then the emotion hit. It's too much, too fast, too big. I was scared for both of them and having a hard time keeping it together.
Walking into the Goofy Child's meeting, we were back in crisis mode. Fully armed with fabulous boots and my brother's necklace, ready to get shit done. That got a lot easier when I received the message that they were postponing my brother's surgery for 2pm and freed me to only focus on my Goofy One for this hour. I had prepared for yes and prepared for no- I had my letter requesting evaluation reports and my request for a due process hearing ready to go. I had thought about mediation and looked into it, but figured it would be a waste of time because this was a yes or no answer, no compromise possible. I wasn't expecting what actually happened. I saw a quote on Twitter yesterday that I feel really applies here, "It's not about what you're capable of, it's about what you're willing to do." -Coach Tomlin.
In this meeting, there wasn't a single question or mention of if we should evaluate. We walked in, sat down, and right off the bat we were discussing which areas would be evaluated. I was confused for a few minutes, listening to them talk. Not really trusting what I was hearing and waiting for the shoe to drop. It never came. I don't know if it was that I complained about predetermination, that I was careful to document my concerns- or made the right points in documenting my concerns, that I was not afraid to go wherever I needed to go or do whatever I needed to do, or if the team sees what I see but he's going to be evaluated.
There's a big feeling of relief that comes with this, but also a big weight of weariness. Two down, two to go. We're not done yet. I'm very tired but I can't let my guard down, I can't get lazy. Next is the eligibility meeting on April 10th. I need to prepare for yes, and I need to prepare for no. "Success is my only motherf*cking option, failure's not."
I requested a copy of all evaluation reports prior to the eligibility meeting. Under IDEA's access rights, I have the right to inspect and review all records relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement, and the provision of FAPE for my child prior to any meeting regarding an IEP (check your procedural safeguards handout). I tried to give them a copy of Wrightslaw's article on there being a legal mandate to provide parents with a copy of the evaluation reports, but apparently, they are already familiar with it. They glanced at it and handed it back, saying there was no problem with giving me copies to look over before the meeting so I can be prepared.
If I disagree with the team's decision on eligibility, I have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation at public expense. The school has the right to file due process to refuse the Independent Educational Evaluation. I need to be prepared to both request and fight for an Independent Evaluation in case their answer is no. How to go about that... I'm not sure yet, but I'll figure it out.
This week, I am working on filling in bubbles on questionnaires to describe my child, and looking into requesting an Independent Evaluation.