Friday, August 20, 2010

Does it seem like the ending is always a let down?

Let's start with the "previouslies."

Previously, on YGWYG, I wanted to find out what options were available for D. for this year. Even though no one would help me do that, I still prepared for the meeting and shared my thoughts with the ARD committee. Decisions were made. And then I decided not to ignore my gut, and so I wrote to the superintendent of the district. And the angels sang in the heavens, and we thought it would be great -- and then it got even better.

Yesterday was the ARD at the school.

Well. Actually, even though I was told that it would be an ARD and I received an official notice via email, when we arrived and I handed in my signed copy, they said, "Well, actually, this is not going to be an ARD -- we just want to have a discussion." Loud alarms began going off in my mind.

An ARD is a legal proceeding. A discussion is not. And as I have learned the hard way, if it's not in the IEP, it doesn't happen.

But, okay. We're there in the room with the principal, someone from the district office, the special ed teacher, and the surprise guests, D's teacher from last year and the special ed coordinator from his former school. So we may as well have the discussion, right?

I explain what I wrote in my letter. I mean, pretty much word for word. I feel that we're setting D. up to fail on several levels, I feel he needs to be in a bona fide co-teach classroom, and I have the support of the district on this.

"Well, let us explain our model of co-teach to you," they say. Their model of co-teach is precisely what they had planned and presented last year -- with one small change. Thanks to budget cuts, the school now has only ONE resource teacher instead of two.

"I totally understand what you're saying," I said. "But what I'm saying is that won't work for my kid."

And they go on to explain about content mastery, and this is the system we use, and the resource teacher is dedicated and committed, and I am sure that all of that is true. But my concern is this: when D. is in the regular first grade classroom for social studies and science, and he is expected to sit for 20 or 30 or 45 minutes as one of 22 students, and attend to the task at hand, we are going to have a problem. What does the teacher -- who was not in this meeting -- plan to do about that? How will she respond?

NO ONE ANSWERED THAT QUESTION.

They urged us to try things their way. "For how long?" we asked. At least nine weeks, they said. That's the minimum amount of time we need to see if things are working. We looked at each other, my husband and I. "Ok," said Mr. WG, "we can try for nine weeks, but we need to have a conference with the teacher no more than two weeks into the school year to get her initial impressions."

We told them that no one will be happier than we if we are wrong, and if their system works and D. thrives in the classroom and learns. Truly, we will be thrilled. But we don't think it will happen. We think it is far more likely that D. will disrupt the class regularly, frustrate the teacher and the students, and not learn anything.

To say that I am feeling let down is an understatement. I think that I have failed here, by letting myself forget that phone calls from the district office aren't the same as buy-in from the school.

I'm not quite sure how to fix this, either.

3 comments:

The Empress said...

The thing is, I believe it when you tell them, and they should also feel it, too, when you say, "no one wants this set up to work more than I do."

I hope some miracle happens in the 9 wks. You never know.

And schools, oh, well, schools: in my experience, with my 13yr old with Ausperger's, they'll take the least amount of work and staff route.

I hope it's not a too painful 9 wks.

:) said...

I want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. I feel your pain in dealing with the School District. I have 7th grader with significant issues and have been to so many IEP's. I don't think what you are asking is unreasonable in the least and they shouldn't wait until your child fails to provide the accomdation.

Mara said...

Have they given you any indication of what will happen if it's not working after 9 weeks? I'm sorry you're stuck on this merry-go-round-which-isn't-so-merry.