Thursday, January 30, 2014

Alex: Homework

Yesterday was Alex's IEP meeting. Yes, 2 meetings in 2 days. I thought I was going to die.

I walked in with Alex, we sat at the table with his teacher. It took more time to sit down and get arranged than it did for the IEP meeting. She said, "this is the paragraph that I changed after his physical therapy evaluation," she handed me the paper with the paragraph already marked. I read the paragraph, I agreed. "I agreed," lol, I was actually amazed that she so accurately described Alex's adventures in getting off the bus. Turns out, it's not just me, he falls off onto his aides, too :)

and that was it, we were done.

Except we have awesome timing and right as soon as we finished, the assistant principal poked his head in to let us know they were doing an intruder drill. It's nice to know that they have everything covered. But, while we sat there, we might as well chat, right? I've been waiting for the principal to get back to me on this whole RtI thing. After talking to a few different schools and having someone explain how the system they use lines up with the system I found on Missouri's website- how it's the same and how it's different- and how and when data is collected, I have a pretty good idea of how it works in most of the regular schools. But Alex is in a special school. They would all be Tier III in the regular schools and every single one of these kids have an IEP, so how does that even work? What does RtI look like in Alex's school? Luckily, Alex's teacher is totally familiar with their RtI because she's on one of the committees!

Their RtI is behavioral. It's a school-wide program and in the traditional model, all of these kids are Tier III, so they broke Tier III into 3 more tiers- 3.1, 3.2, 3.3. Since they are all already Tier III, data is collected frequently. While the regular schools collect data no less that 3 times per year, one collects additional data monthly (yes, on all of them) and one collects data weekly (on all of them. He wants 3 points of reference before they decide to move tiers or provide intervention.) the special school collects data daily and there is a 3 minute test twice a week. Everything is data driven. There is room for professional judgment but even the professional judgment is checked against data. I love this so much. and Alex is Tier I or 3.1.

ok, so, Alex is taken care of with school. Everything is figured out. Now that I know what to do and what they are working on at school, I can work on the same things at home. The 3 things we are working on now (3 specific things, you guys KNOW there's a heck of a lot more than that ;) ) are:

1. Identifying family members by looking at them when they are named. At school, they are using pictures. I do work with him on the pictures they sent home like flash cards, but we also identify and greet people as we run across them. That gives purpose to being able to identify them.

2. Putting on socks. Now, this is the hardest one of all of them. You never really think of what all goes into putting on a freaking sock until you are trying to teach someone to do it. Especially when that person only uses their fingers to eat and squeeze. He even scratches with the back of his hand. I was thinking we had to work on each individual skill first- crossing mid-line, bilateral integration, grasp and release, grasp and hold (that one is a B*), etc but being able to carry a tray doesn't necessarily mean those same skills are going to transfer to putting socks on. So, we're putting socks on. Kind of. We're trying, lol. Right now it's completely hand over hand and not at all voluntary.

3. Using a fork. He's pretty good with a spoon now. They worked on scooping last year. This year, we are stabbing. Alex's OT is freaking brilliant, I know I've mentioned that before but it deserves mentioning again. When Alex scoops his food, most of it pushes out of the bowl onto the table, you know what the solution is? A round cake pan! Brilliant. straight edges to stop the scoop. Ok, at school it's not a cake pan, at home it is. but still, straight edges are straight edges. He's using a fork to stab his sandwich pieces. I never thought of eating a sandwich with a fork. Didn't I tell you she's brilliant? It's going great. He has trouble stabbing with force which means peanut butter and jelly are the easiest for him to practice on.

Oh, man, the other night, we were working on stabbing food and he was getting frustrated because every time he would throw his fork Goofy would show up with a new one. Goofy handed him a new fork, I told him, "Come on, buddy, you need to use your fork." right then, that look he gave me with fork in hand, I was rethinking the desire to teach him to stab with force. He threw the fork. Goofy let out a cry, dove to the floor to scoop the fork up and blew on it hard, he raised it above his head and yelled, "FIVE SECOND RULE!" Alex, just as quick, reached into his plate and grabbed what he could to shove it in his mouth before Goofy could offer him the fork. We were done. God, I love these boys. I have been blessed.

I think homework time might be the highlight of my days. I love it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Opinions

I've tried to write this post a few times, I thought maybe writing it would help me figure things out. It didn't. I still haven't. You know yesterday was Goofy's meeting, it was a very long meeting, longer than even I expected. I think we talked in circles. I don't know that anything was figured out. I need to make a list so I can note my questions before the next meeting but I don't even know where to start.

The school psychologist wasn't able to be at the meeting, medical reasons, I think. I wish he had been because I really needed him. He made recommendations and gave them to the principal. I think his recommendation was that Goofy was just fine. I need to know what that is based on. I'm having a lot of trouble with this whole "professional judgment" thing because "professional judgment" is just a fancy way of saying it's someone's opinion. I don't want opinions, I get enough of those as it is, and I don't need "anecdotal" information- "anecdotal" by definition is "unreliable." I need to know why that is his opinion, I need to know where they get the information. He didn't do an evaluation, so what is he looking at? The information I have is saying something completely different. What does he have that I don't? Besides a college education and a job, of course. Those are irrelevant ;)

I needed to talk to him about the things I'm looking at to see if I'm even looking in the right direction and which one would be which. He knows about educational diagnoses- I know the basics, he knows the details. When we met for the 504 meeting, he knew exactly what I was looking at and why. He's the one who mentioned dysgraphia. There is a lot that was said in this meeting that I just don't understand and he would be the man with the answers.

Listening comprehension is a problem. The two scores being discussed were an ADHD thing. Why is that important? Listening comprehension is Specific Learning Disability, ADHD is Other Health Impairment. Either way, it's still a problem. What is the importance of linking things with his ADHD? Which one would that fall under? Does it even matter? Saying this problem is because of that problem doesn't make either one less of a problem, I don't understand. So, him not being there takes out a big part of the discussion. That sucks. and still leaves me with more questions than answers.

The Director of Student Services was going through a list of things for us to think about as a team and one of the things he said was, "where did we go wrong? where did we lose the trust?" My husband started laughing and asked if he really wanted to go there, because either my husband knows me really well or he's just a very smart man. The Director said no, but it got me thinking about the answer.

At first, my entire list could be summed up in one word- Alex. I have to wonder how different things would be if not for those 3 years.It wasn't just a missed goal or a missed service, or lies about placement options; it wasn't just a staff member here and there, entire teams failed him repeatedly. And then there was me, the ignorant parent who didn't do their own research. I was a member of every single one of those teams that failed him. If I knew then what I know now... would he have had a better education or would we have had to go through the same steps?

But then there's Walter. Walter, who was supposed to be in Title 1 reading, but "this isn't a Title 1 school." Walter, who had failing or almost failing grades in every subject in 5th grade because there was no parent/teacher communication about how his medicine was working. The same boy who now works his butt off to just barely get a C average. I was a member of those teams, too. If I had insisted on being fully informed, if I had pushed for communication, would he still be in the same place?

Still more questions than answers but I guess my answer to his question is "professional judgment."

I trusted professional opinions until I realized that an opinion is an opinion, it doesn't matter where it comes from. If I were to go around jumping on any opinion offered, I'd probably be feeding Alex bleach and bleeding him with leeches (or were we feeding him the leeches...? wait. that was parasites, wasn't it? bleed him with leeches, feed him the parasites? either way, ew.) to cure his autism (those are "professional" opinions), and might as well take the leather belt to the Goofy One because everyone who "knows" says that's the cure for ADHD (those are not "professional" opinions). 

As the parent, these boys are my responsibility. They are counting on me to make the right choices. It's my job to consider the opinions offered and then look at the information available to form my own opinion based on everything. If you want me to believe what you believe, you have to convince me. Don't just tell me to believe, tell me why.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Refocusing on what's important.

I told you yesterday- I'm up. and I am, with a smile on my face. :)

This past week or so has been the roughest yet with trying to figure things out for the Goofy Child. I keep getting pulled off topic and pulled back in to the place of anger and accusation. I keep being pushed to the point that I want to scream at them the entire list of their transgressions from Walter and Alex to Goofy- spanning the past 5 1/2 years. I remember all of them. I told you I was good at holding grudges ;) I know I need to let go and focus on Goofy's needs now and how to meet those needs. I keep refocusing on him but with a comment or an e-mail, I'm pulled off course.

I was sitting here last night, my head aching, my stomach burning, the rage overflowing, going over this last sparring match when I saw a new e-mail. Alex's OT.

This woman has good timing, I'll tell you that. She's telling me things, answering questions, offering information, sharing ideas... and the weight is gone. the ache, the burning, the fury is gone. By the end of the e-mail I'm laughing and feeling the urge to crack a joke. and I do. because I can. Alex's principal, assistant principal, and teacher are in on this conversation and the principal knows exactly what I'm talking about and responds in the way what I said was meant to be taken. and it's so damned easy.

Alex. That one. Oh, Lord. I went to take Alex to the bathroom and change him. When I took his diaper off, there was a second one there. I looked at Alex and said, "buddy, did Aide put two diapers on you?" He laughed and nodded. I gave him a sideways look and said, "Did she forget to take the old one off?" He laughed harder and nodded faster. I said, "Well, didn't you tell her 'STOP! you're doing it wrong!'?" He laughed so hard and nodded so fast, I thought he'd fall right off the toilet. I can laugh at this because I know. I know this Aide. I know her work. I know when she works with him and the way he comes home and in all the time she's been with him, she's been excellent. I know because it's so damned easy.

I think about Walter's school. I'm informed. I'm involved. All I have to do is ask. and it's so damned easy.

With the Goofy Child's school, I question my sanity, if I'm pushing too far, too hard, for too much. I think about the way it looks and how my words are warped and twisted. I worry that I'm disorganized, bouncing around from this to that, never making a point, and the image that presents to the only people I feel might be able to help me- district administration. They are attacking my credibility, trying to make me look and feel scattered and crazy, while they tell people how much respect they have for me- I know it's not true, but I also see their plan- and I worry that it's working. I see what I'm saying there and I know it sounds insane. I know I look paranoid. Actually, I start to wonder myself, which makes me even more wary of what the district is seeing in me.

Then I get this e-mail. This e-mail where everything is so easy and simple, and I think about Walter's school and I know the problem here, with the Goofy One, the problem is not me.

With Alex, I knew. I had this sense of urgency- I had to get him out of this school. Had to. I knew there was something better for the both of us. It took 3 years, but I got him out. Within the time span of one report card at the special school, he was making progress in every area. By this time, I knew how schools worked. We've had several years of training. I looked at that first report card and I was furious. "They're lying," I told my husband. We had a meeting. They promised me that they were not lying, Alex actually made progress on every goal. I knew better, but what are you going to do? right? At least I know where we stand. Two and a half years later, I am happy to say I was wrong. Alex has made progress. a lot of progress. This year is his best year ever. He's happy, he loves going to school, he loves his staff, his behaviors are almost non-existent. He's communicating more and more effectively.

When Walter moved to the middle school, everything changed. No discipline referrals. No phone calls. No trouble. The past 2 years I have been wrapped up in Alex and Goofy so I wasn't as active in his school and the only person I communicated with was my Mystery Man- the assistant principal- until he left and I was forced to get to know the principal. But that sixth grade year was a turning point. Walter loved school. He loved his staff, he loved his friends, and didn't want to miss a single day. Talking to the principal not too long ago, he told me how impressed he is with who Walter is. He doesn't feel the need to be one of the crowd. He's happy and confident, he does his own thing. He said he'll crack a joke and most of the kids won't catch it but Walter will look at him with a smile like "yeah, I see what you did there." What this principal doesn't seem to get is he's just as responsible for that. He's been a big part of helping Walter grow into the person he is now. Three years in his school has made a huge impact on my baby. in a good way.

I don't know that I would go so far as to say that I have a good relationship with these schools, relationships are a two way thing and I can only speak for one side, but I can tell you it's comfortable. easy. It shouldn't have to be so damned hard. The relationship between the parents and the school is a good indication of the relationship between the school and the students or the students and the school. I try hard to keep this from Goofy, no child should be caught between two bickering parents- same thing. I work hard to not show him my feelings for the school, and still he hates school. It's not the staff, it's definitely not his teacher. It's that they are not meeting his needs. If we could work together, his needs could be met with or without an IEP but I'm afraid that's not a possibility.

Last night I lay awake thinking of the years worth of bad feelings that have accumulated, the irreparable damage, the irreconcilable differences and I wondered how without the school and the parents working together, he could even have a chance at a decent education- with or without an IEP. The conclusion I came to is there is no chance. I fell asleep working on arguments to get him into the special school. He can't get into the special school without an IEP.

The other night, I had fallen asleep watching a channel 9 show on local schools and transfers from unaccredited schools. One thing they discussed was why the kids need to be shipped to other districts. Sometimes there are good schools in "bad" districts. Why not transfer within the district before transferring out? I read something along the same lines in Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind last night. I woke up this morning with an elementary name repeating in my head. The Goofy Child's school is 2 minutes to the right. This school is 6 minutes to the left. Transportation would not be provided and the afternoon time might be a little tricky but I think this is possible. I took time this morning to check out the school. Their website, their facebook page, their state report card. Looking at the information provided, this school looks like it might be a good fit. It looks like it might meet all of the recommendations from his evaluation reports.

The special school is still my number one choice, I think they'd be the most qualified and appropriate for him to provide meaningful educational benefit, but this school is a very close second as far as providing an appropriate setting (not so sure about educational benefit, I do worry about that), the tone of their communication and the amount of parent involvement I see online feel good, and they're the least likely school to be argued.

I'm back. I'm up. I have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, I am as prepared as I can be, and I am refocused on the only thing that matters:
 

 
 
All because of one e-mail.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I'm Up

Today is Friday. There are just 4 days left before Goofy's meeting and it feels like everything I have worked for is falling apart. A wasted effort. I'm still missing vital pieces of information. I still haven't gotten the records I requested repeatedly, a book I ordered still isn't here, I ran out of ink so I can't print up things on district policy or the requests I drafted. I still don't know the purpose of this meeting, and the answer to my questions is a riddle.

I was angry for a while. Determined. Focused. I knew what I wanted and I knew how to get it- in theory. Instead it's more a game of keep-away, where I'm chasing a ball that I'll never catch. In the course of a night, I've gone from angry to broken.

and then there's the message my friend woke up to this morning, "If you are ever having trouble finding one of your retards, check the nearest body of water. Lol" L.O.L. it's so fucking funny, isn't it? We work to spread awareness, to model acceptance, to ask for equality, and to show that our children and our friends are human beings and this is the response. This isn't an isolated incident. If you ever feel that you've made progress in your advocating, check the comment section. It'll set you straight, quick.

It's a constant battle. A battle for services, a battle for human rights. It never ends and when you think you've taken a few steps forward, something comes along to knock you back on your ass.

Then you have two choices... sit there and cry about it or get the fuck up and do something.



For the jackass who left that comment, screw you. I'm up.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ask and you shall receive...kinda.

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.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I have a Dream...

Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A day to remember a great man who did great things. A man who poured his entire self into making his Dream a reality. A man who let no one and nothing stop him in his crusade against injustice and for equality. The leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

I wholeheartedly believe in his Dream.

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.""

I see the things my little ones bring home and the things I'm told they will be learning, and I ask my boys, "what was his dream?" and they tell me his dream was black and white. and it breaks my heart because they miss the point. I know it's what they are being taught in their schools, but it's not the whole truth, not the end of the Dream.

The Civil Rights Movement is still alive and going strong today. His Dream will not be realized until all are free of the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. He did not only fight for racial equality, or Racial Rights, he fought for Civil Rights. His vision was Equality for All.

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
I get angry because they have cut his Dream into pieces, distorting and butchering his words until it's broken down to the simplest terms of black and white. Perverting his message from one of equality and freedom for all to equality only for black and white- a goal they can pretend to have accomplished so that no more work is needed and a false sense of comfort is taken that his words do not need to be taken to heart and learned from. The lesson is taught that this movement is in the past. Done. Over with.

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream."

Today, I cannot argue my son's right to an equal education, or an education that helps him reach his full potential because he doesn't have that right.

Today, smart boards are being taken out of self-contained classrooms to be put in general education classrooms with no consideration, no care, of how that would effect our children. Without caring what message that is sending our children- all of our children- about where the disabled, or differently-abled, people in our world rank in the hierarchy of humanity.

Today, our children have no more than a token involvement in school activities.

Today, our children are hidden in the shadows of the schools, never to be seen in public. Not in photos posted of school activities, not in news blasts updating us on the wonderful things going on in our schools.

Today, our children are a shameful secret only to be taken out on the special occasions that showcase inclusion or to earn our schools a pat on the back.

Today, our children are an afterthought in planning school activities and building plans, some just to make sure our kids aren't going to interfere with what they are doing, or to ensure they are meeting the minimum of what the law demands .

Today, employers add an "optional" box on applications asking if you are disabled, promising that they don't discriminate. (You do know that when you give a disabled person a job just because they are disabled, that is discrimination, right?)

Today, our adults have to petition the courts to buy their freedom. They have to prove their worth and their capability while people their age and younger, and oftentimes with less sense, are allowed to fly or fall on their own merits.

Today, we have capable adults who are not offered support, but imprisoned by the ruling of a court to be at the mercy and the judgment of another human being until the time, if ever, that they can prove they deserve the freedom to live their lives as they see fit.

Today, we have children and adults that have to fight the discrimination of society to be able to survive, survival being their highest ambition and their strongest desire because they have been taught by our schools and our society that they don't have the right to thrive.

Today, our children and the adults in our community are still bound by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy...Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children." 
"We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?"...we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
 "I have a dream today." 

I will not stop speaking until that Dream is realized.







(All quotes from Christian Today.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

RtI vs Severe Discrepancy

I've thought many times about what to say here. I've gone through many emotions over the past few days, each emotion completely changing what I want to say.

We have 10 days until our meeting and I still have no RtI data or information.

After many, many requests for data, I still have no idea what is going on in the Goofy One's social skills group. I don't know his goals, or objectives, or progress, or even how that progress is being measured. I've asked and asked and tried to be cool and polite and specific and the asking turned into a heated exchange. Surprisingly, I was not the one that lost their temper.

I told you that I gave them my notes for the meeting, that did not go over well, apparently. But, after sending my notes, I did get reading data. (I'll share that in a minute.)

Well, after a few more e-mails back and forth with no progress, I really want this information. I need this data. So, I'm going to drop off the evaluations I've collected for the team to review before the meeting. Maybe if I give them the next piece of what I have, someone will give me something in return. Goofy's appointment with his pediatrician to get recommendations isn't until the 22nd so these evaluations are all I have to offer right now.

I go to the school and I wait.

When the principal has a minute for me, I started to hand her the evaluations, but she invited me into a room. I was explaining to her what I was there for since she hadn't received my e-mail from that morning. She was draped over the table with her head propped on her hands looking at me with a bored look as we talked. I didn't really pick up on that, if I had been smart, I would have walked away then, but I was thinking, "Oh, she's really tired. I wonder if she's having a rough time at home."

I was trying to figure out how they know their RtI works if they don't measure data when she got frustrated, sat back in her seat, crossed her arms and huffed, "well, we call it RtI but it's not, really." I was confused about how they can 'call' it RtI when Missouri's DESE explains what RtI is, when she snapped that there are no rules for how RtI is to be implemented because "there's nothing stating that we have to do RtI at all." At this point, I can understand her frustration because I am just not getting it. I don't understand, and she keeps saying the same things over and over, which don't answer my questions.

What comes next, however...

I was trying to figure out the district's policy on using the severe discrepancy model vs the RtI. I was showing her in IDEA 300.307(a) where it says that states:
(1) Must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in §300.8(c)(10);
(2) Must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention; and
(3) May permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in §300.8(c)(10).
She interrupted me, pointed to the bold letters and said, "that's for Specific Learning Disability!" uh, yeah. Then she told me that the things I am looking at are for Special Ed students, Goofy is not a Special Ed student. Never mind the fact that IDEA's laws for evaluation, eligibility, IEPs, and placement are in effect throughout that whole process; according to the psychologist who evaluated him in November, there is no reason, based on her evaluation, that Goofy would not qualify for an IEP. So, I responded that he will be. and that's where the conversation went straight to hell. "A parent can request evaluation," she grinds out, "that doesn't mean they'll get one."

and now I'm trying to figure out where to go from here.

I don't understand how this meeting coming up can be the meeting that determines the need to evaluate when I haven't requested evaluation yet and based on what I took as a threat, I'm afraid the decision has already been made before they even saw the evaluations I got at private expense and without my input as his parent. I have effectively been shut out of the team again.

I can't allow that to happen but I need to carefully consider what my next steps are.

I do have good news (of sorts), though. I got the data I requested for Goofy's remedial reading once I found out reading was not part of his RtI and I made a chart, check it out:


Data: this is the data collected from his Reading Specialist in the time she spends with him.
RC: this is his reading level in the classroom that is sent home on report cards.
M: this is what his report card says would be meeting expectations.


I asked his Reading Specialist for an explanation on the difference between the progress she has observed and the progress his teacher documented. She said what I am seeing is very typical and the difference is most likely the setting. Goofy only has one other child in his reading group. There are 23+/- children in his class. The Reading Specialist has the advantage of being able to tailor instruction to the child's individual needs, and there are no outside distractions in their lessons which makes it easier for the kids to focus on reading and writing tasks.

It seems to me that in a smaller class with more specialized instruction, he's close to, or right on target for meeting expectations, while in the traditional classroom with a 504, the gap between where he is and where he's expected to be is widening with every report card.

This is the tragedy of the severe discrepancy model. "Many districts refuse to evaluate or provide special education services until after a child fails. This "wait to fail" model has tragic results. The neurological "window of opportunity" for learning to read begins to close during elementary school. Late remediation is more difficult and carries a high price tag, emotionally and economically." -Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, Second Edition, pg 47.

If the severe discrepancy model is used, all I can do is hope we can work on reading, writing, and listening comprehension through an educational diagnosis of Other Health Impairment (ADHD) and I'm ... beat. There is nothing else I can do. and then there's the problem of how does he get Other Health Impared if they have already decided not to evaluate?

Here's the beauty of parental rights...

CFR 300.502
(c) Parent-initiated evaluations. If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at public expense or shares with the public agency an evaluation obtained at private expense, the results of the evaluation—
(1) Must be considered by the public agency, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child; and
(2) May be presented by any party as evidence at a hearing on a due process complaint under subpart E of this part regarding that child.

and then I realize...

My first seriously dirty look in this conversation was when I corrected her evaluation timeline. We go through this every time. Eventually, either she'll get it right or I'll learn not to correct her. But, here's the point... they don't know the timeline. They don't know that ADHD falls under OHI. They don't know that Auditory Processing Disorder falls under Specific Learning Disability. They don't know that dyslexia is covered at all.

...and I'm going to just believe what I'm told about the severe discrepancy being the criteria for SLD?

So I search. All week I've been searching for the district's written policy on what is used to determine SLD. Today I realize, I've been looking at the wrong district, and when I find what I'm looking for, I realize why I couldn't find it searching for severe discrepancy being the basis for determining SLD,
"The BLT (building level team) may try many interventions during this time to try to met your child's needs — your child's response to intervention (RTI) will be the basis for whether or not your child is referred for an evaluation."

Alright, then. I still need that data. I guess it's time to go a different route and ask someone new.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More than a silver lining...

It's a fricking ray of sunshine, man.

Not with the Goofy One's school. I think we're going the lockdown, circle the wagons, bring out the fire breathing dragon route. Not with Goofy's teacher or reading specialist, I got two sets of really great reading info and an explanation, so WOO-FREAKIN-HOO for that, right? (that was serious.)

But here comes the ray of sunshine...

I'm trying to figure this whole RtI thing out. I'm being told that the information I'm finding on it is not, whatever, it's a whole big thing of nastiness, but I want to know what's going on with my kids. A few weeks ago? months ago? who knows, once upon a time, I went to Walter's school to *cough* discuss things and got distracted. Surprise, right? This guy is just as good at discussing things as Alex's principal. Somehow, we ended up on this great new program they have going that is going to be AWESOME for helping Walter with math. It's got all of these cool functions and cool data and these great weekly tests, has systematic data collection, and LOOK, it's EVIDENCE-BASED! I have to admit, it's pretty cool.

Fast forward to the night of the PTA meeting Tuesday night, and we're walking down the hall and I'm all, "hey, do you have this thing called RtI?" Wouldn't you know, that got him gushing again about this awesome program... and it clicks... uhg, is that what Walter's doing? Walter's in RtI. Second Tier.

How do I not know this!? so, I'm asking him questions and telling him that I cannot find anything anywhere on our district's website about RtI. He stops walking and looks at me and says, "oh. there's not, is there?" No. He starts brainstorming about how he can clue the parents in.

Then he's telling me about how he wants to get the kids more involved in tracking and interpreting their data and I'm all, YES! This is awesome. I love his ideas, I love his passion, and I love that his enthusiasm is contagious enough that it catches. These kids are lucky kids, and most of them know it. At least, the ones I own do.

When we're talking about the kids' involvement, and giving them their data to see how to identify their strengths and places that may need a little work, I ask him if we (as the parents) could get a copy of the data. I'm asking if we can get a description of their program, what things are involved... Did you know that school wide behavior goals and student planners are part of RtI!? I didn't. He's surprised. They spend so many hours in school on it, that they just assume everyone knows. He's like... yeah, how could you know? and if you don't know about it, you don't know to ask about it and he goes into WE MUST DO SOMETHING! or, something along those lines with a lot more dignity attached to it.

He's making plans to inform the parents and to involve both the students and their parents in the RtI process and he promises that if Walter spends more than 6 weeks in 2nd tier, he will let me know.

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask and it can bring things to people's attention that they never realized... and that can change the world.




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sharing Information

January has not been a good blogging month for me. I've been pretty quiet because I'm mostly furious and I don't really want to share that... but, *shrugs*

Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that my anger problems have absolutely nothing to do with my mental health and absolutely everything to do with the school. The song of the day...

 
"If you feel so empty, So used up, so let down...
If you feel so angry, So ripped off, so stepped on...
You're not the only one Refusing to back down.
You're not the only one, So GET UP!
Let's start a riot!"
 
 
What happened was... I still don't have data. Everyone wants to give me reports. I don't want reports or "anecdotal information"... well, I do, but I really want measurable data. I've been clear on that- repeatedly. I've worked hard to be clear and polite- repeatedly- and to not lose my temper, which has gone from simmering to raging boil over the past... day. In my notes for our meeting, I have an argument for not being informed:
"-The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities' article on RtI (http://nichcy.org/schools-administrators/rti) Quotes a description from the National Center on RtI "With RTI, schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness, and identify students with learning disabilities or other disabilities. (NCRTI, 2010)" The same article acknowledges that "communication with parents and family plays a key role in an RTI process." and notes that while IDEA's provisions for parent notification have not come into play yet, "informing parents along the way is important, valuable, and good policy."

- NCLB 1118 (d)-(e) states clearly the expectation that parents be regarded as "equal partners" in their child's education, it is also clear on the school's responsibility to reach out to, communicate with, and work with parents as equal partners.

- in order to be an equal partner, I need to be fully informed. I have not been informed and my requests to access records have been ignored."

I read, I research, I learn, I ask... and I get angry. Why won't they just listen!? Rights aside, what would it hurt to just give me the freaking data so I can look at it? The data will be discussed at the meeting and if there is something I am confused on or something that I misunderstand, we can discuss it. The fact that they are fighting so hard to not give me what I ask for makes me wonder what they are hiding. The fact that they are not giving me what I ask for means that the information I have right now to present at the meeting is incomplete and possibly inaccurate. Any decision I make needs to be based on the facts, on the data. Without it, I could be headed in a total wrong direction and not even know it.

With every request deflected or ignored, my "please" and "thank you" sound as a bellowing FU!!! in my head, "sir" is more of a sneer, mocking the respect due a person in their position. It's harder and harder to be clear and polite and not let out the stream of curse words that are running through my head with the accusations that are begging to be unleashed.

and then comes the whispered accusation: "hypocrite."

I'm getting frustrated because they are refusing to give me the information I need but I'm not giving them the information they need to understand what I need or why. Giving them the benefit of doubt, they don't see the picture I'm seeing because they are looking from a different perspective. I'm not giving them the information they need to prepare to answer my concerns. That's not fair. Not equal.

So, I took a breath and I jumped, offering an olive branch.

I gave him all of my notes. Every concern, every problem, every argument, every documented source. Hopefully, this will lead to more sharing of information and not a complete lockdown as they circle the wagons :/ We'll see.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Regular School vs Macaroni and Cheese

I was sitting with Alex at the kitchen table. He's been trying so hard recently to do everything on his own. Yesterday, he got mad at me for trying to feed him a cheeseburger. He glared at me, took it out of my hand, took a bite, and very carefully (in an FU fashion, considering he is his mother's child and all), very deliberately put his cheeseburger on his plate and then looked at me as if to say, *boo-yah* So, fine. You wanna play like that? we can so play like that. It's on.


Tonight, I sat his plate in front of him, put the cup on the right, the spoon under a light layer of mashed potatoes on the left and raised my eyebrows. *bring it* Little turd looked at me, grabbed that spoon, did an awkward swipe across his plate and did it his damned self.

Several minutes later, looking at the mashed potatoes piled around one side his plate, green beans on the other, spoon clenched in his hand as he tries so hard to get the green beans onto the spoon and then lifts it toward his mouth, just to drop half of it in his lap... I'm taken back to another time...

The day the Area Coordinator defended me in an argument over macaroni and cheese. True story, I couldn't make this crap up.

I don't remember if it was a DFS call or one of the usual bickering sessions but we're sitting in the conference room with... ah, it was the day that ended DFS calls. The Special Education Liaison person was there and the Area Coordinator, the principal and I'm not sure who else, but the school was upset that Alex wasn't using a spoon. At the time, we were really having a hard time, the only thing he could really feed himself with a spoon was yogurt. I was arguing ability and that there are just some foods that are frickin HARD, like macaroni and cheese, things like that, it just makes more sense to let him use his fingers. The Area Coordinator spoke up, "that's how my 1 year old eats macaroni and cheese." It took me a minute to decide if it was a slam against my parenting since Alex was 6 or 7, or if he recognized that Alex and his son were on the same developmental level. He got it. :)

I think about that day and I think, if he could see Alex now...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lockdown: Day 20

20 days ago, my boys started winter break. It started great and eventually spiraled into some twisted combination of Lord of the Flies and Children of the Corn. Lord of the Corn? Children of the Flies? Whichever way it goes, it's not good. Rioting in the basement, anarchy spreading throughout the house. Insanity. Goofy: "Don't touch it! I don't want to drink after you, I don't want to catch the Mexican!!" Alex: "Goodbye? Goodbye? Goodbeygoodbyegoodbye?" Thing2 and Walter... we're not even going there. I counted down to January 6th... and this happened...



Then in that blinding blizzard of hellfire, snowflakes pouring down like the incessant and unforgiving pelting of Sodom and Gomorrah, there was a promise of hope...

For Monday and Tuesday, school was called off around noon. Wednesday was Goofy's meeting at 8am. When I didn't hear anything by noon, I went ahead and started getting ready...


Yes, I'm sure I looked stupid clearing the grass. I don't care, that boy was going to school. He wanted goodbye, I wanted goodbye, I would look anyway I had to to get goodbye.

Later that evening, they called off school. Our meeting will be rescheduled.

Then yesterday, I got a Facebook update:

"The [Bleeping] School District -will- reopen on Thursday and classes will resume at their regular times. As always, the weather will be monitored overnight but there are no concerns at this time. Welcome back!!"

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! THANK YOU, JESUS!!!

We followed the evening routines, we packed and laid out backpacks and coats and such, we fought over bath time and the no TV at bedtime on school nights rule, I sent e-mails. an ungodly amount of e-mails. We were done fighting and asleep by 9pm, ready to wake up refreshed and catch some buses with smiles on our faces.

yeah...

It's kind of fitting today that the ring tone my husband has set on his phone is a tornado siren. At 5:09am, the siren went off. "This is a message from the [bleeping] school district. All classes for today, January 9, have been cancelled due to inclement weather."

All kids were bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to bicker by 5:45am. Except Alex. Alex doesn't bicker. Alex knocks on the door repeatedly asking oh-so-pathetically for "goodbye."

Dear school, you suck.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Guest Post: IEP: Uncensored

You've been with me over the past months, or even the past years as I've gone through IEP meeting after IEP meeting- some good, some bad, some leaving me celebrating and some leaving me in tears but through them all, the emotions leading up to each and every meeting have never changed. IEP meetings are hell for the parents, there's no question about that. But, I did have a question.... what are those meetings like for the teacher? What do the teachers want to say? I asked some teachers. Please welcome Bec from Autism: Uncensored!

Rebecca Daniels Perin, known to many as Bec, has been traveling and writing for years, sharing her work and experience with small grassroots organizations, nonprofits, and a few greeting card companies. Her work has been included and published in self-help books, compilations, and magazines. Her humor, perspective, and emotion bleed through her writing.

While she holds multiple degrees, the highest a master’s degree in Special Education, she credits the bulk of her professional and personal success to life experience and personal interest. “I have an exhausting passion for the unknown. Plus, I’m a mom. The two sort of fit together like a perfect little puzzle… and, give me lots to write about.”

In 2011, after much speculation by many, Bec and her brood were welcomed into the world of Autism. Welcomed?—Meaning, her youngest was given a diagnosis of Autism, and she was given the Autism How-To-Manual. Realizing those three pages weren’t going to be enough, she sought to find answers, and her life became focused on research, learning, and understanding this new journey.

After a few years, and a few more diagnoses, she decided to retreat back to her own passion and love—writing. Her writing has shifted and changed from stories of the road to tales of motherhood, wifehood, and her humorous, yet heartfelt, perspective of her family’s journey through the world of Autism and Type 1 Diabetes.

She blogs daily at Autism Uncensored about her son, Liam, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Receptive- Expressive Language Disorder. While Liam is the focus, she has no problem laying out her uncensored version of parenthood, talking openly about her own Asperger’s diagnosis, and dropping random, humorous one-liners about life’s shenanigans. She continues her humor as one of the Facebook admins at The Real Housewives of Autism, a group of hilarious Autism moms figuring it out as they go along. She has also recently started sharing thoughts at Gen X Extremely Uncensored Parenting and The Art of Love and Sometimes War.

Bec's post...
 
IEP: Uncensored

IEP. Did you ever think you could value and despise an acronym so much? As a parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I have sat through my fair share of IEP meetings. Some people have wonderfully, positive experiences with this process. But for some, it can be a gut wrenching, blood curdling, heartbreaking, enraging, shattering experience. They want to discuss your child—your child in black and white, on several pieces of paper before you, as if it’s that simple.

My first IEP meeting, oh the first one—it’s laughable now. I walked in, earning no respect from the team. They saw a hippie—a naïve, uninformed, mother who had no clue. In fact, I think I said, “I have no clue what I’m doing.” I knew so little. I was underestimated, intimidated, didn’t fully understand my son’s diagnosis, and had no point of reference for what we were experiencing. I walked out trying to process all the things I had heard, but the thing I remember most—I instinctually knew I had to become a fighter, a warrior. I had been called to battle. Not just any battle, I had been called to fight for my son. You may be thinking, you pulled that from one IEP meeting? It was that bad? NO. The first one, aside from my complete ignorance, felt like it went well-- of course it did. I didn’t know to ask the hard questions, for specific services, to question, that I didn’t have to sign anything I didn’t agree with. There was a boat load I didn’t know. They were pleased I accepted everything they offered. We exchanged pleasantries, handshakes, and it was over. It was when I was sitting in my car, crying like a baby, literally screaming at no one and everyone, that, “He is more! He’s more that what you said! There’s so much more inside him! Help him! They have to help him!” And it came over me, “You are his mother. You help him.”

Days ran into weeks, which turned into months, and then years. Like many of you, all the time I didn’t spend caring for my son went to research. Autism became my passion, my call, my purpose because it was a very complex part of my child. I began to understand the importance of the IEP meeting. I learned to be assertive, confident, to come armed with all the knowledge, evidence, and data. I became an advocate for my son.

Along the way, I earned a master’s degree in special education. The tables turned, yet again. Now, it was me sitting across from the mom and dad seeking answers, the parents in their first IEP meeting, the single mom or dad taking off work to attend—it was me who had to explain their child in black and white. How was I going to do it? I wanted to sit next to them, be gentle with my words, and make sure they understood I have their child’s best interest at heart.

The first IEP meeting I was a part of as a teacher was nerve racking. I knew it was coming for a month. I spent time gathering all the information. I wanted to present the best, most useful, educational view of their child. I spent ten minutes in the bathroom before the meeting. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, and I was giving myself a “You can do this” pep talk. “They may cry. You don’t. You stay strong, look her right in the eyes, and say, “Hey, I will do this. I understand. He is getting my best.” If she gets angry, you calm her fears. She’s afraid, just like you were. You have to make her see you care. You’re a mom too. She may not agree. Give her space. Let her voice her opinions. This is not personal. This is important.” I gathered myself up, and went to the MEETING. The clock struck one, and no one showed. By 1:15, the team had sealed this child up in a little package, removed his speech services, among other things-- despite all of my arguments. I walked out feeling like I had a long road ahead of me. How many of my students would have no one representing them across the table from us? Light bulb: You’re not only fighting for your child anymore.

The next went better. They were much like me: nervous, anxious, hungry for answers, but too afraid to ask. It was my moment to give back. I wanted to give them the care I hadn’t always been given. I spent an hour with them, answering every question, listening to their concerns, collaborating on their view of their child’s needs. I was shot looks from staff members. Looks saying, “Ok, stop patting their asses, and let’s move on.” And, I shot back, my “Make time, it’s OUR job,” look.
As a parent, I had to earn, and sometimes carve out, respect. I had to do the same as a teacher. I’ve learned to balance-- to keep one hand on the school’s island, and reach the other hand across to pull the parents over. Ultimately, when I think about the IEP meeting with parents and school personnel—my position is to be the bridge—to connect the district and the parents. It’s my job to listen to all the information, to collaborate, and make sure the child’s best interest are being considered and served. I want parents to walk out of a meeting with me feeling like the information they received was well supported, their concerns were heard and valued, and their child has someone on their school team ready to go to bat for them. I want them to feel like someone “gets it.”
My time in IEP meetings has taught me to look for a friend. And if I don’t find one, I bring one in the form of an advocate.

Til the next IEP meeting… stay strong, and remember, as a parent, you bring expertise to the table you couldn’t buy, steal, or fake.

Signing off,

A Special Education Teacher

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A simmering kind of calm... prepping for Goofy's meeting

 
Ok, I'm calm. I'm absolutely calm. A simmering kind of calm but... good enough. I was great, so great, I took some good advice and walked away from the whole mess for I don't even know how long- a week? shortest week of my freaking life. Today I got a tweet reminding me that tomorrow is the last day of winter break (thank God for tweeting schools) and I'm all NOOOOOO!!! Not yet!!! because Wednesday is Goofy's meeting. January 8th at 8am.

I take a breath and get back to work. I'm still good, still calm, thanking God with everything that's in me for a piece of advice I really needed. I needed the chance to step back and calm down before going at this in a (hopefully) rational and (hopefully) well thought out manner. Putting the girl down for her nap, I'm reading about the expectations of parental involvement. This is the most important to me right now because last year, when the verdict was handed down, I choked. I knew there was information that needed to be addressed but I couldn't remember what it was. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, No Child Left Behind, Response to Intervention... They all state that parental involvement is important, that parents need to be informed. I need their words to explain why I am upset that I wasn't even told that Goofy was in RTI, that I have not been included or informed on his plan or his progress, and that I still have not seen any data- even after 3 written requests. I need facts, not emotion. Emotion is going to get us in trouble. well, me. It'll get me in trouble.

 It was really going good all day, all the way up until Goofy walked out of the therapy room with his OT who handed me 3 sheets of paper, apologizing that they were pretty general but letting me know that there were some good ideas there to help him with problem behaviors. Problem behaviors like, "poor organizational skills" and "talks self through a task" and *drumroll* "Stares intensely at people" and "doesn't seem to understand body language or facial expressions." My poker face sucks. I look up from what I just read, and that quick, her eye contact disappears and she's looking anywhere else as she says, "Well, it's probably just the ADHD." Luckily, what I heard was the voice in my head, "Mac, I will not allow cursing at staff." FINE! There were small witnesses anyway.  We go on and I just, I'm so mad!

"No more games,
I'ma change what you call rage
Tear this motherf*cking roof off like 2 dogs caged
I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed
I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage..."

Every piece of paper I collect is something that I already told them. When I requested evaluation last year, I told them what I was looking at, I told them what I thought it was, I told them what to do about it. I told them freaking everything and because I said "autism" and they said "*just* ADHD" and we disagreed on one freaking word, they what? Ignored everything!? How is every-single-thing I told them to look at last year suddenly an issue this year when last year it was all in my head because I "worry." How did he not qualify for an IEP for his ADHD because he was "fine" and looked so normal that "anyone walking in the classroom wouldn't be able to tell which one had an aide" and "The ADHD doesn't affect his academic performance enough to warrant an educational diagnosis." and then less than 6 months (in school time) later, he's getting (I'm guessing based on the description) 2nd tier RTI for ADHD behaviors? How was I completely ridiculous in my freak out over him being unable to read because he was behind but it wasn't "worrisome" and less than 3 months later (in school time) he qualifies for remedial reading?    

"But I kept rhyming and stepped right into the next cypher
Best believe somebody's paying the pied piper..."

Fine. No. I need to stop with last year and focus on this year. If I keep thinking about last year, I'll be too angry to get anywhere this year. There's enough pressure as it is. Everything rests on each meeting from here on out. My first step could be Goofy's last chance. The success of one meeting leads to the next appointment, but the end of the line is the end of the line for this year and we have to start all over again preparing for next year from even further back than he is right now. I need to let go of last year and only focus on my right to be informed, my right to participate in my child's education, my right to request evaluation and the rights that come with the evaluation. I need to assert my right to be a fully functioning member of his team, I cannot be that without being fully informed- and that means with the same information the rest of the team has.

To get there, I need to be nice. Calm. Rational.

I close my eyes and I imagine the IEP table, the seats that are filled with various representatives. I picture them sitting in big chairs around 3 sides of the table, I picture them in judges' robes, huge files sitting in front of them while I sit in a small seat, alone on my side in yoga pants, messy hair, and empty handed. I have nothing. None of the power to make decisions, none of the information needed to even weigh in on the decisions. That's not the way it's supposed to be.

I think of all of the parents that came before me and I get so angry because I don't understand how none of the moms and dads that came before me, who have sat in this exact seat, in this exact school, facing this exact team have stood up and demanded a big chair, why they didn't insist on having the same information every other member of the team had, information that it is our right to access. If someone had stood up, I wouldn't have to fight so hard in this fight to just be informed. I am angry with them for not knowing their rights, for not asking to be included.

and then I see the others. The ever changing face in the lonely, little, powerless seat goes from the ones who came before to the ones who haven't been here yet. The ones who are hoping to step onto a solid foundation that the person before them started. "If you don't, then who will?"

Alex's school doesn't understand why they aren't getting elementary students, and I have to laugh. Alex is not the first or the last child this school refused to let go because they misunderstood what the Least Restrictive Environment was, how many others are there? How many students in how many schools are stuck in an inappropriate setting because the school misunderstood the law? with no real hope of that changing because it's decided on an individual basis by the individual child's team, not something that's really dealt with in the Central Office, not something that's double checked. How many kindergarteners went home at the beginning of school to try again next year because they were deemed "not ready" based on behaviors that didn't get any better the next year? How many parents are sitting in that small seat empty handed? How many dyslexic students are not getting special education services because "dyslexia isn't covered under IDEA"? How much longer do we let this go on?

"Success is my only motherf*cking option, failure's not."

For Goofy and for the parents who are coming behind me. The ones who are just as lost as I was with no clue where to even start. I may not be big enough to make waves, but I can start a ripple. I have the right to be informed. Once I get the information I need... I'll have what I need to not choke at the next meeting when my son is counting on me to speak up. So  I'm working toward calm. or at least a slow boil.