Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Standing Firm for What He Wants
I'd gotten spoiled the last few years. All my IEP meetings were at the same school with the same school staff, and everyone understood 'the rules.' But this year, Ronnie moved to a different school and the play book was tossed out the window.
Today I sat in an IEP meeting with an entirely new group of school staff. Obviously missing was someone from Central Office, and that would prove to be a problem - more on that later.
I received the draft copy of Ronnie's IEP late last Friday afternoon, and the meeting was scheduled for 1pm Monday. That is not enough time for me to digest what the school was offering. Several times, the teacher asked if I had time to review the proposed document, and every time the answer was no - I have a life and other children. I need time....
But the meeting was held, and from the very start, it took a turn for the worse. Remember those triennial scores from the tests not normed for a deaf students - those scores I had them put a disclaimer in Ronnie's file about - well lo and behold, those very same scores showed up in the Present Level of Performance section of the IEP. I suggested a rewrite and the rewrite was accepted. But why would the team think the scores would be acceptable in an IEP when I vehemently opposed them in the triennial report???
From there we moved to the goals and objectives. Ronnie's teacher, sweet and well-meaning as she may be, just doesn't know how to write a measurable objective. So all my suggested rewrites for those were also accepted. Along the way both the chair of special ed for the school and the teacher kept saying I needed to be a teacher. I reminded them that my expertise came as a result of many years and too many IEPs to count. Should have stood as a warning, don't you think???
Finally, we were at the placement discussion. Everyone except Ronnie and I assumed Ronnie would stay at his current school next year. I started on my speech about why that was not what either of us wanted. The school team's response started at shocked and then moved to being defensive and finally to telling me they couldn't make a change like that. Someone from Central Office would have to talk to me about that.
Well, if someone from Central Office had been at the meeting like they were supposed to be we could have settled the issue and perhaps had a signed IEP. As it stands now, there is no signed IEP and I don't know when there will be one.
Perhaps the saddest moment for the teacher and staff came when I suggested the interpreter ask Ronnie why he wanted to go back to his previous school. I didn't want them to think Ronnie was answering a certain way just to please me, and that's why I wanted the question to come from someone else. Ronnie said all his friends were at his previous school, that he hadn't made any friends at the current school, and he just wanted to go back. When further quizzed as to whether the staff at the current school could do anything to change his mind, he politely signed, 'no.'
That was a good example of self-advocacy in my opinion, but it was sad to see his current teacher get teary-eyed at the response. Ronnie is a very easy person to fall in love with, and I'm sure his teacher has. But both Ronnie and I know that he has to make decisions that are in his best interest. And today he did that.
I am very proud of him...