I woke up feeling anxious, my stomach all in knots. I felt the urge to throw up more times than I care to recount. It was not a pleasant feeling waiting for the 11 am meeting time to arrive.
I had emailed the behavior specialist on Friday because I wanted to ensure he would have both sides of the story when he arrived at the meeting today. He called me this morning to discuss my email and my concerns. He asked me what our plan was.
I answered his questions, and then told him honestly, we would be either requesting a due process hearing to return her to her classroom or we would be revoking their permission to build an IEP for her.
I still felt anxious and terrible after I hung up the phone. While I felt that he had heard me, he had made the mistake of admitting his meeting with them was at 10. He would be there for the 11 o’clock meeting with us, though.
We arrived at the meeting a little early. They were still in their meeting at the time. Our meeting consisted of two hours of me pointing out that they had been punishing her past the point that a general education student would be punished. To which they argued that it was not a punishment, but a tool used to build an IEP. That is an unacceptable tool that should be abolished!
When we pointed out that due to the high anxiety of all the “supports” they flooded our daughter with during this past week, they could not use that as proper data to assess how she can handle herself in the normal classroom setting, they argued that while separated from she was not actually removed from the general education classroom.
To which I argued that if just being separated caused that much anxiety, why would I agree to remove her completely from the classroom? To which they argued that they needed to put her into a smaller setting to test their ideas of what might work. To which I asked how they could know if they would work in the larger setting if that is not where they were “testing” them out.
This went back and forth. Me pointing out laws that they were breaking, them coming up with excuses why that law didn’t apply. Then I asked for a due process hearing. This is when they called a recess to go call the legal authority for the county’s school districts. After leaving us sitting in the office for half an hour, they finally came back from the impromptu meeting (open meeting law says this was illegal).
They informed me that because no IEP was in place yet, and we are only in the observation and testing phase of things, that the due process law does not apply. I do not believe they are correct, but I have not had the opportunity to research it yet. Anyways, they thought that without having the option of a due process, I needed to just agree with the alternative placement until their testing was completed, and allow them to continue experimentation on my daughter.
I did the only thing left. I revoked their permissions. I wrote a letter right there in the office stating that they could no longer perform testing. I granted the behavior specialist permission to come watch her tomorrow in her regular classroom setting. I reminded them that she is still protected as a 504 student. I signed it and dated it. I also had the assistant superintendent sign it acknowledging its receipt. He then made me a copy.
When I arrived home, I emailed her teacher. I asked her for the support my daughter needs. I asked her to open the lines of communication back up between us. I want my daughter to be successful. At this point, I am unsure of the teacher’s involvement in all that was done to my daughter. What I do know is that my daughter does not feel she was involved. My daughter feels that it was people who are also in charge of her teacher who performed these transgressions against her.
This is not a good solution. Many cannot just revoke the IEP because they need supports that are written into it. Homeschooling wasn’t a solution either. It’s why my daughter’s social maturity is a little stunted. It creates the same isolation we were fighting so hard to avoid. There is no solution to this kind of bullying and emotional abuse being inflicted on our emotionally impaired children. There needs to be a better answer. There has to be a better way. An option that helps everyone equally.
I wish everyone struggling through this the best of luck. As we continue our journey through the fifth grade, I will continue to share the accomplishments and the set backs we experience stepping out of the umbrella of special education. Each child is different, each need is different. Whether general ed or special ed, if you’re child isn’t getting the education they deserve, speak up. If your child is being bullied by a teacher or other staff member, put an end to it. We do what we have to for our children. This is where our journey has taken us.