Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting ready for Goofy's IEP meeting.

This week has flown by, hasn't it? After the Goofy Child's Eligibility Meeting, I thought I would take just a little bit of a break but then time got away from me. Plus, my husband's on vacation and you know how distracting that man can be. Gotta love him. Everything is working out. There are still some things to figure out, and I still can't wait for the last day of school, but it's moving along. It's mostly easy from here on out (I'm praying) and it feels good to be "off" for just a little bit. The hardest parts are over. Here in about 6 weeks I can just let it all go and enjoy my heathens.

I'm still waiting on a meeting date to discuss Alex's staff change, the reason I'm waiting is totally legit so I don't mind at all. I expect this one to be easy, anyway. I won't know for sure about follow through until August, but I'm praying. We've been through a lot these past few years and this year I think we're finally completely on the same page. He understands what my problems are and why, I understand that he is trying. Hopefully, this time around, when August gets here, I won't be raging about stupid decisions. All of the time we spent putting more effort into actually communicating and trying to work together, after being able to see what is going on in the school and why decisions are made, having decisions explained in a way that makes sense and knowing my arguments are being heard and considered, it does help considerably.

The Goofy Child's IEP meeting is April 28. I'm doing my best to not let the anxiety get to me. I'm not at all anxious about the IEP, I'm anxious about placement. They say they are not really thinking self contained but I don't know that a general education classroom is going to be good for educational benefit. Educational benefit trumps inclusion any day. The IEP should be designed to provide educational benefit in an appropriate setting. That means the IEP should be the answer. Somehow, the IEP should help him in a way that the 504 didn't. The pit in my stomach says that is through placement, but I'm trying hard to give them the benefit of doubt and ignore placement for now and focus on designing the IEP for a GenEd classroom.

I sat down and thought of what more he could need in the general education classroom as far as accommodations. I've told you before and I'll tell you again- know what you want and know how to get it. You cannot just be all- I want something, find it. You need to be specific. You need to be able to tell them what your concerns are. They don't work for you, they work with you. Team, you know. If you don't know what your concerns are, they won't know where to look. If you don't know what your concerns are, you need to do some work beforehand to find out. Yes, it takes work. A lot of work. It's hard. It seriously sucks. But it is what it is, stand up or sit down.

Being able to explain why you want the things you are asking for is going to go a long way in being able to get it. You can't say, "I want a 1:1 aide." and just expect them to do it because you want it. You need to be able to explain how it's going to help and what happens if he doesn't get it. If you have examples or documentation of how he's already shown a need, it will be harder for them to say no and easier for them to work with you to find a good solution- whether it's the one you asked for or one you can agree on.

You need to know your bottom lines. Most likely, there are places in the IEP you don't care to negotiate on and other places that you will fight to the death over. At least, that's the way it is for me. With Alex, since my stance on his stuff is already clear, I leave academic goals to the teacher. She tells me what she wants, I do what I can to help at home. Speech, I have a general idea of where I would like to go and a definite idea of where I don't want to go and we work it out to find middle ground. Occupational Therapy, I am all over that shit. When it comes to OT, this is the hill I will die on. I haven't quite figured out my bottom lines for the Goofy One, but I will. For now, I just have concerns, ideas, and suspicious looks to toss around ;) 

Another thing is you have the right to a Notice of Action from the school a reasonable time before the school plans to take (or refuses to take) actions related to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child. Parents should also receive prior written notice (PWN is a Notice of Action) a reasonable time before the school plans to take (or refuses to take) actions related to the provision of FAPE to your child. "Saying “no” is too easy for some IEP teams. Articulating “an explanation of why the agency . . . refuses to take the action and a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the . . . refused action” (20 U.S.C. 1415(c)) is tough." As a member of the team, your proposals should be considered and a Notice of Action should be provided. If they aren't included, write it yourself. I included a link to Wrightslaw's how-to a few seconds ago. It's a very good way to make sure your voice is heard.

One of my main concerns is to make sure the IEP is followed. This is a big one for me, and I have solid reasons. Lol, I tell you as if you guys haven't had to frequently say, "but, it's in their IEP." I think this would fall under my Parent Concerns of home/school communication and progress reporting. If you read Wrightslaw's Letter to Baker, you will see that you have the right to access education records- including records such as therapy logs. Whether or not this will work for progress reporting... I don't know yet but it's worth a try.

So, anyway, that's where we're at right now. I have most of my plan submitted for consideration and I'm waiting to hear their plan. As a team, we're still in the beginning stages of feeling each other out, it's going to take time and effort to build a working relationship. Until then, Goofy needs a safety net and it's my job to provide it. The safety net will be built into the IEP which is why it is so important for me to know what my concerns are and have suggestions ready to discuss as a team.

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