Last night’s meeting did not go well at all. Ultimately, it resulted in me calling an end to the meeting and walking out. I ended up in tears out by the car. It is so frustrating. The law very clearly states that the parents can participate in every decision made regarding their child. Hell, doctor’s cannot take life saving measures on a child without informed parental consent. Why, exactly, would educator’s be awarded more decision making power than a surgeon?
As a response to my email stating that I learned that we were entitled to a due process hearing when we disagreed with their placement proposal, they have offered to start the evaluation process over again. We did not sign the paper last night. We brought them home to discuss our options and decide what we wanted to do. We will be signing the paper and turning it in to them today.
After last night’s complete failure of a meeting, I drafted a letter. This morning I edited it like any good piece of writing should be edited and sent it off in an email to as many people involved in the decision making process as I could think of. Here is a copy of that letter.
This email is regarding ###### ######. We will be dropping off the signed consent for evaluation this afternoon around two, when we come to pick up her work for the week (and hopefully her Boo Grams). We would like to address some concerns from last night’s meeting. We are not trying to micro manage or control the decision making process. We do, however, have a right to participate with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of ###### as well as any provisions made to her FAPE.We know what has and has not worked in the past with ######. The most recent IEP resulted in physical injury, OCR investigation, and our daughter being homeschooled for the last year and a half. In the past, with both of our children, we have been through a lot of horrible experiences in special education. We have used OCR mediators, advocates, and other avenues to resolve each and every dispute. Each time, things became worse for our child.We have the right to refuse any proposed provision to our daughter’s educational plan, if we feel that it does not best serve her educational needs. This includes refusing to accept any service that is a known trigger. Feel free to observe her in her classroom. Interact with her in ways that do no interrupt her learning, such as talking to her while the teacher is talking to the class. She has told me that her and Mrs. ###### are finding ways to help her settle down. She is feeling a bond there and building trust. Trust equals security, which reduces anxiety. Nurture this.Schedule any evaluations that will take ###### out of class in a manner that does not affect her education. Assessing how effectively she can be educated in the general education classroom and what supports and services she may need there are the main goals of building an IEP. It is also a known trigger to her to be lost and confused in class, such as when STEM had the bird skeleton and she became increasingly agitated when she could not figure out why there was a bird skeleton, or getting to class to discover you’ve missed breakfast and a chinchilla. Recess is important to her for the reasons that were pointed out last night, running off some energy and some anxiety hormones as well as social interaction amongst her non-disabled peers in both educational and non-educational settings.Mrs. ###### expressed surprise last week that ###### had followed along during math instruction. I was not surprised. All she wants is to be able to learn from her teacher. She may need a little extra help from time to time. I am sure that she is not the only student in the class who does. Please do not confuse extra help with doing it for her. She needs to do it for herself in order to learn. She will struggle to keep up if she is missing instruction time, and then the results of her educational evaluation will be tainted.This entire process should be about ensuring that ###### is developing academically and socially to the best of her abilities amongst her peers because that’s what the education system is designed for. If she is found eligible for an IEP, the goal is to know what will work to ensure that this will happen and write it into her IEP. In the event that she is not eligible for an IEP, then we can be prepared to develop her 504 plan immediately. We, as her parents, are exercising our right to participate in decisions as well as agree to or decline any offered provisions or modifications to ######’s educational plan.We have been a part of the special education system with both of our children since our son was in kindergarten 14 years ago. During that time, we have worked with some wonderful advocates and Office of Civil Rights mediators. They have educated us along the way. I am the mother of two special needs children, and I am a trained mental health professional. We know our daughter better than anyone. We have some valuable insight to contribute. We hope that you will work with us as a team to develop ideas so that our daughter can receive an education that is equal to that of her peers.~Tiffany Higgins