DON'T BE FOOLED
And On Third Thought...

On Second Thought, Hell No

The principal at Noah's school called us mid-day on Friday. She abruptly dropped an oh-HI-THERE-just-wanted-to-let-you-know-something-we're-changing bomb, in that sweet disarming way only cheerful elementary school ladies can. And after I hung up I stared at the phone for awhile, trying to figure out what just happened and why.

The change in question felt like...not a good change, or at the very least felt like a change we should have been able to say "no thank you" to, or discussed a little further, instead of what it was: On Monday we're moving your child out of his morning homeroom, and sending him directly to the special education classroom. Try to give him a heads' up over the weekend, kthxbye.

A flurry of emails among the other parents with children in the special education class confirmed that I was not alone in my unease. The "change" seemed to fly in the face of the program our children are in (small, self-contained classroom only when necessary, integrate at all other times), in the face of our IEPs, our right to be involved in these sorts of decisions ahead of time, and our right not to be fed a line of complete horseshit, just because the school is overcrowded and overwhelmed and hey! You know what's easy? Move the special ed kids out. A couple less kids for the general education teachers to have to deal with in the morning. Tell the parents it's a transitioning problem, or something, and we're only talking 10-15 minutes or so a day, no big deal, right? 

TL;DR version: Big deal. Somebody hold my earrings. 

UPDATE: Oh, school. How hast thou violated my child's IEP? Let me count the ways. In excruciating, exhaustive detail, cuz I gots alllll afternoon and every piece of paper you have ever sent me EVER:

IEPbomb
You fools! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia," but only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a compulsive paperwork hoarder when her kid is on the line!" MWA HA HA HA

Comments

Chelsie

It's time to go all Mama-Bear-Bishes-Gonna-Die on some school administrators. That sounds like it's a matter of convenience for the school, the children's IEPs be damned. Not cool.

Hayley

Fight it! Fight it!

Salome Ellen

Mid-Friday, for a Monday morning change for a change-averse kid, is NOT OK!!!! Leaving aside all the parts about consulting you, and what the IEP says. We've got your back...

E's Mommy

That's nuts. For them to change your services without calling an IEP meeting and then call you on FRIDAY to tell you it's changing on MONDAY?!?!? No. I'll hold your earrings and your jacket. You go kick some ass.

gemma

I get the feeling that this Principle hasn't encountered Full Force Amalah, backed up by Teh Internets before...

Lisa

Administrators, not teachers, will almost always be the problem. It's lots of fun. I feel your pain.

grammargeek

Um, yeah, I'm a teacher, and that is NOT how things are done. At all. I suggest you and the other parents schedule a sit-down with the principal. Co ear Ed with your IEPs. Bonus points if any of the other parents happen to be a lawyer.

Dawn B

Oh hell naw. Good luck with this! For reals. (I still can't get over how nonchalant.. he has an IEP and everything!)

Jessica

Someone at the school didn't think this through. Parents of special education kids have spent years advocating for their kids - how could you hope to sneak one by them?

Becca

No. Just no.

Jessica

Fight that shit. That changes service time, which BY LAW, changes his IEP.

You are within every right to call a special review and fight this. These decisions are made BY THE TEAM - not one person - and they are for the good OF THE STUDENT - not the school or anyone else.

kristen howerton

Not okay. We've got your back . . . and your earrings.

Brie

Go get 'em. Also- sell tickets! You could totally pay for Christmas.

Seriously, though. Get 'em.

Liz

WAY big deal. WAY. Squish some ears together, Mama Bear.

Anne

Oooh, I'm glad you and the other parents have each other's emails and can communicate around the school and see that yeah, this isn't okay with ANY of you, and it IS a big deal.

Go get em.

C @ Kid Things

I have a kindergartner going through necessary evals for an IEP and I'm dreading having to deal with this kind of future bull. Good luck, we got your back 'cus it looks like your earrings are in good hands.

kwqr

Got your back Mama... totally been there. Time to call an emergency IEP meeting & set it straight. Least restrictive environment, can't change IEP without the team & and all that silly "it's the LAW" stuff on their asses.

Jen K.

Glad you know your rights and are fighting this. It sometimes amazes me how schools thing they can circumvent the IEP process. They've learned it doesn't fly with me (I'm not only a lawyer, I've read the double-sided Parental Rights Manual they gave me cover to cover).

Dr BS

I'm right there with Jessica, changes in service time = changes to the IEP and require a meeting with at least 5 days notice! In my experience working in SpEd some administrators just don't know IDEA as well as they should. This may warrant a call to the distrust director of SpEd. I am willing to bet s/he has no idea what the school is trying to pull

JB

Not ok. Agreed.

Danielle

Yeah, ditto what others are saying. The school is trying to bind a backdoor way to modify your IEP without the required notice and meeting. Get 'em.

PopMommy Pam

You are right. They shouldn't just expect you to be okay with a big change with just a quick phone call. You have to fight for your kid because no one else will. I hate, hate confrontation, but if you mess with my kid, I'm fearless. Good Luck and Kick Butt!

Ashley

Wow! Definitely NOT ok and most likely illegal b/c it would be violating his IEP. Good luck with your fight. It makes me so sad that you have to fight to get your child the education he deserves.

Leah

That is some bullshit. They know they shouldn't be doing this and are trying the oh-it's-not-a-big-deal approach to catch you and the other parents off guard. Look forward to hearing about the beating-down they're going to get.

Becca

Agreed with the not cool.

Karen

Ugh! I fight every day. Talk to Noah to see if anything else is different. Ask the other parents. My guy wasn't getting his intervention OT when he was escalating - only when a tantrum ensured. You can bet I was happy to spell it out for his teacher - and her 32 years of experience. She hadn't experienced this momma yet.

Babs

I'll hold your earrings...

dksramsey

wow -- good luck with fighting what is best for Noah. It is so hard having to fight for everything isn't it?

dksramsey

wow -- good luck with fighting what is best for Noah. It is so hard having to fight for everything isn't it?

rebekah

Wow, that sounds uber-shitty. Though I do emphasize with educators, who have their hands tied in the public school system these days, many times, amid increasingly dismal budgets. Government can only do so much. But, it is the responsibility of government employees (i.e. teachers, administrators) to handle their limited capacities to the best of their abilities -- not pull a one-over on special ed parents! WTF! If they foresaw a staffing problem that caused this, they should have been transparent and proactive about finding a solution.

Megan

I'm a school psychologist - this is absolutely unacceptable. You should demand an IEP meeting, pronto! Feel free to email me if you want "coaching" ahead of the meeting.

Sandra Timmerman

Over here in the Netherlands as of August 2012 a new law will be applicable. This law states that the cause is to integrate special needs children into "normal" schools, as this is now devided in several clusters.
Sounds good BUT the only thing parents have a right to from the onwards is to choose the school of their preference. IF that school is willing to accept this special needs child this is no guarantee it will remain there. If that particular school decides your child is better of somewhere else that's it..
Parents will have no influence anymore how their children will receive education. It will be given as the school and specialists see fit and that doesn't have to be what the parents would most like.
If a school decides for an education based upon a procedure iso of based upon the possibilities your child does have,duh bad luck.
I have a sun of 10 with PDD-NOS-ADHD and a sun of 9 with ADHD and am dreading August 2012. I have been fighting to getting them diagnosed still fighting to get them the education that fit's them. Now at this moment the parents have the final say in everything. For at least 10 months still, I just really hope that we can stay and will stay on the path we have chosen.
I know this feeling all to well..for us this means letters received on a saturday yeah :-)
Good luck with the ongoing struggle,
Sandra

Ginger

Good luck! This is exactly the type of thing I dread in our future. And I will totally hold your earrings!

Arnebya

Oh, hell no. I'll hold the earrings, give you a ponytail holder, and pass you the Vaseline. WTF happened to discussion and inclusion and this is my fucking kid, I get to at least not agree to this b/c it is NOT just a simple kthxbye? Definitely a required sit-down.

Jen

Not cool. IEPs are legally binding. If they are not following it the school can get in trouble. I'm a teacher and I deal with IEPs all the time. Don't let this happen!

tehamy

Wow, some things never change. My sister and brother both had issues with this in the 90's. My brother was moved to a remedial reading/math class, not because he needed them, but because there were too many kids in his class. And my sister has ADD, the school constantly tried to make changes that contradicted her IEP. I'm sure that my mom would have loved being in such close contact with other parents instead of fighting alone.
GO GET 'EM!

Hayley

Do some research about Special Education Advocates and then threaten to get one...I'm not saying that you have to follow through with it (I think that they're pretty expensive), but it should let the administration that you know something's not right. It's unfortunate that school systems count on parents not knowing the laws, but they do.

Ariel

Speaking as a professional teacher and a special education teacher I can tell you that they CANNOT change Noah's "placement" without having an IEP meeting to discuss the change. It's illegal and you have every right to challenge them!

mark @ yelling near you

Muhahaha! I love the extensive record keeping you do. In a lawsuit, you're a lawyer's dream because you're not the client that says, "Yeah, they gave me something but I threw it away." Vindication will be yours!

Cathy

Noah is so luck to have you and Jason as his parents. Time to put on your advocacy armor and get back out there! Good luck!

Candace

"TL;DR version: Big deal. Somebody hold my earrings."

Best. Line. Ever.

liz

And excellent use of a Princess Bride reference.

Libbi

way to paper hoard! mama's gotta fight for her baby cause that's what she does! best of luck and positive vibes to Noah.

Victoria

Not ok. At all. Sometimes, I wonder if they forget that that "student" is somebody else's whole world. I'll hold your earrings and Ike, go get 'em.

Josefina

Oh my, my adrenaline is pumping here. This makes ME want to fight, and I don't even know you. GO GO GO!

Melissa

Yes! My daughter is still receiving EI - we are about to have her evaluated for the transition to the school district - and I have saved every little piece of paper related to her IFSP. that includes progress reports, evaluations, e-mails, even notes from her therapists. My husband thinks I'm crazy. I tell him it's ammo we may need. Right?

Karen

LOVE the princess bride quotes. I suggest a call back to the administrator with the, "let's hold off on this change until a state mediator is available." and I bet the entire decision will be reversed. A lawsuit or paying a mediator is more costly than the change was saving them.

Nicole

Not ok. Ever. Holy shitballs, the administrators have some nerve. Fight that shit!

ladykay

Go gettum Momma!

Tempe

Time to go to the mattresses, Amalah. We've got your back. Nice paperwork hoarding, btw. You rock.

Cristin

Unemployed? In GREENLAND?
Yes, fight it. Some of the other parents might not have the balls but feel the same. Start a coup!

liz

Were you able to hold off the change for today?

Heidi

Give 'em hell!

Shannon

I'm a special education teacher and what they did to you is just hands down illegal. That IEP is a legal document. Rules and procedures must be followed to change it.

jenny

Time to start dropping the words "504 PLAN" into every conversation and every email. And then do it. It's like kryptonite. (Am also a teacher, and I hate when parents use 504 plans when not needed, but for you its totally valid.)

Marci

As an EC teacher, it always gives me a smallish ulcer every year when it's time to send "my" kids out into the elementary school .. for this. exact. reason!

The two words you need... Due Process!!

Like it has been said .. An IEP is a legal, binding, document between you and the school. No take-backs!

Cheryl S.

Go get em! Don't worry. Teh Interwebs are here to hold your hoops, and the baybee! Good luck!

Olivia

Princess Bride quote for the win!

Wiley

god bless paper!

Della

You have just validated every insane box of paper that resides in my home. Bless your little heart.

Loretta S.

Go get 'em Tiger!

Cara

Holy shit...ditto what everybody else said...

Jess F.

Awww...yeah! Go get 'em! I am sad you have to do this at all, but seek and destroy!

Cath @ 7 Million Wonders

Listen, it was a long time since law school and I have spent a lot of effort trying to forget everything I learned there, so I would take what I say with a grain of salt...but I always understood it that a change to an IEP required a meeting and possibly even a hearing? It's not something you can go about adjusting willynilly. I bet if you meet with the school and make even a moderate stink they will back the fuck off posthaste.

Vaya con dios, Mama Bear.

Cath @ 7 Million Wonders

Also, I seem to recall something about how across-the-board changes that affect many kids at once (without taking into account their separate situations) are verboten. I remember that for sure. There's that whole "individiual" thing in IEP, you know? Something definitely smells off about this.

Shauna

Not that I am surprised by this, but good for you for keeping such good track of this paperwork and being so involved to protect your son! You are doing the right thing here.

KE

Ohhhh, no, no, no.

I think I maybe sent you this via email a long time ago, but if you meed someone to hold your earrings and coat in real life, or maybe just give you some advice, try the Maryland Disability Rights Center: http://www.mdlclaw.org

JenVegas

Take 'em down Amy. Take 'em dooooooowwwwwn.

Becca

That quote at the end right there makes me want to ask - Is it weird to declare my love for you?

Tricia

As a teacher, I'm telling you, FIGHT IT! The reason we have IEP's is so no one can decide randomly to change things. If you feel resistance, just throw out, "I'll be speaking to my lawyer." And if things don't go your way just go ahead and get one. The IDEA law is very clear: Don't F with the IEP!

evsmarie

Um - no thank you. As (yet another) Sped teacher, I can say with certainty, "Hells to the no."

I'll just echo everything that others have said. Feel free to call an IEP or sit down in the nice principal's office and firmly tell them thank you but no thank you (since they must have missed that it violates his IEP) - and if they disagree? Mention contacting a legal advocate to take a second look... Chances are they'll change their minds.

sarah (so not my name)

3 letters that should scare them:
LRE.

I'm a sped teacher.

Rebecca Van Hout

Jessica and all the other lovely people above are correct. They can't change ANYTHING affecting placement without an IEP meeting and they are required to legally give you notice much more in advance (not sure off the top of my head how many days but not over the phone and definitely not without an IEP mtg!! As a mama of 2 SPED kids (one who has graduated SPED) I highly recommend NOLO's book http://www.amazon.com/Complete-IEP-Guide-Advocate-Special/dp/1413301991/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1319585496&sr=8-2
Helped me navigate the IEP craziness and hold my ground knowing my rights. Good luck and HUGS!

Carla

great princess bride adaptation!

Sweetney

Here to hold your earrings.

anne

I agree that you should have been consulted, but the tone of all these comments is why I left a job as a school OT. It was so heated. I get it, I really do, wanting to fight for your kids. But, from what I saw in the schools, I am convinced you catch more bees with honey. People were pissed at me before I even started seeing their kids because they had been on a waiting list. I'm just pointing out the perspective that these are real people at the other side of the table and a fight might not always be necessary.

Michal

Princess Bride!!! Love that movie. On another note....go kick school butt!

AmyinOz

Inconceivable! (Heh. Only it isn't. It sucks. Good luck!)

bec

iAdvocate is a great (and free!) app that can help arm you further for your IEP battles. Good luck!

Jenn T.

Bless you for being so on the ball with your child. BLESS YOU! My cousin is a resource english teacher and at her last parent teacher conference session, with appointments scheduled for three hours straight in 15 minute increments, three parents showed up. THREE. Wonder why their kids are in resource ... You are awesome. And yes, they are TOTALLY violating IDEA policy! Spoken as someone who is currently writing a paper about IDEA!

Melanie

Three words: GET. IN. THERE.

anon

If the school wants to change a child's program or placement, prior written notice is required. Sometimes the school will argue that the proposed action doesn't constitute a change in program or placement (e.g., it changes minutes, but not the LRE category or it changes an objective, not a goal...) and a phone call will suffice. That argument might hold up, *if* the parent agrees to the action (you don't) and if the action truly doesn't change program or placement (sounds like it does).

Kim

Your earrings in one hand, extra can of whoop ass in the other. (Not that you'll need it, but just in case...)

Heather

Your ability to work a Princess Bride quote into that post proves that you are completely full of win and you will beat bureaucrazy to a pulp for the good of your son. Go Mama Bear!

jaelithe

You know, I'm an absent-minded person. My purse has a crumpled receipt problem. My desk is covered in papers I meant to file three weeks ago.

But my son's school and medical files are color coded in archival sheet protectors I keep in a portable binder system, and backed up with scanned PDFs.

It may take me a month to do my taxes, but I am fully prepared to deploy relevant special needs records as quickly as a ninja throwing stars.

Don't mess with a mom of a kid with special needs, silly people. Just don't.

I'll hold your earrings anytime.

Jess

transitioning problem my arse. I work in an elementary school and the special ed K-2nd graders can handle transition beautifully, probably better than a lot of their mainstream classmates. This is because the special ed teacher is fantastic with managing behavior, keeping the kids in line and getting them to accompanied all of their tasks. I bet could probably negotiate a peace treaty in the middle east and make each faction think it was something they wanted to do to make her happy.

Amanda B.

The only transition problem is the teacher. There are numerous ways to ease transitions and stick to a routine. Push hard mama. The more time in the classroom the better.

Sara

Seriously? They can't change placement like that without a full meeting, and they know that! I just completed my SPED licensure, and we spent hours talking about this. Besides the legal issues, those kids need the time in gen ed! It seems like they are making more work for themselves...

Kirsten

Get 'em. Get legal on their asses. There is NO WAY that this is legal, much less, you know, a good idea or morally right or good for your child in any way, shape, or form. Although, I have a feeling mentioning the legal part is going to get their attention quicker.

Erica Hettwer

Go get 'em, Tiger!

*m*

That is crap. Show them the power and fury of THE BINDER.

Katie

Oooooo. Fight, fight fight! I've got a fight coming up when my 4 year old transitions to gen ed Kindergarten next year. I'm already in training. You've got to fight the power, sister!

Sarah

Finally coming out of lurking to comment on this. I am a school-based speech-language pathologist. The first thing I would say is go in CALMLY and DO NOT THREATEN. Make it crystal clear by highlighting areas that are being changed. Read the parental rights and find the section that pertains to required notice of changes to the IEP. I believe it's a 10 day notice, which can be waived, but definitely was not in this case. Parent also legally can request paperwork 5 working days in advance of meetings. Clearly you are part of the team and if it is a staffing issue leading to this, that can and should put the district in deep doo-doo. Your child cannot suffer due to staffing issues. The only advice I can offer is to go in with your ducks in a row and go in as calmly as possible. Odds are, the teacher(s) (either sped or gen ed or both) agree with you that this change is illegal. Unfortunately, their hands are usually tied. Don't back down, but you also don't want to become "the parent" that nobody wants to deal with. (I can't imagine that happening with you...I'd love it if all my parents were as involved as you!), but it's possible. I've found this site: http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/ very helpful to me personally in seeing things from the parent's side as well as learning professionally how to be clear and direct when I see illegal things without being adversarial and ending up in a hostile workplace. Check it out. Good luck and I'm sure as soon as you go in with evidence the decision will be reversed almost immediately!

tracey

You GO Amy. You go. I hope that you and the other parents can band together and stand up for your kids' rights.

Just a nameless commenter for this one

YOU are your child's most important advocate! With apologies to "A Christmas Carol", I feel like The Ghost of School Years Future. I'm about ten years ahead of you in the wonderful world of the IEP merry-go-round.

Last year my son's IEP team determined that he should be placed in a resource room for every single one of his five "core" subjects in the third (of four) marking period ... meaning that every piece of his day - including his lunch and PE periods - changed three-quarters of the way through the school year.
For a kid who has some social challenges and anxiety issues - and who virtually all of his teachers agree is a polite, enthusiastic, involved student who participates in class - this was a pretty devastating change so late in the school year. Not to mention, he was the only kid in the "resource room" taking honors math and science classes - which meant that they called it "independent study" and he wound up teaching himself those two subjects for the remainder of the year.

Our purportedly-excellent school district just didn't have (and still doesn't have) a clue about how to deal with kids who are "dually-exceptional"; in my son's case, that includes being extremely bright and motivated to learn on one hand, and having anxiety issues, a mood disorder, ADD/HD (and the associated organizational/executive function deficits), and a visual processing disorder on the other hand.

Since our goal was to go through Due Process, our attorney-at-the-time advised us to adhere to the "team's" recommendation (which SO clearly went against the LRE guidelines it wasn't even funny). Why? Because if we didn't we'd be pegged as uncooperative parents who were not willing to work with the team and avail ourselves of the accommodations they were offering.

We had to, in essence, set our child up to implode to prove that the District could not adequately accommodate him. And implode he did. :-(

Families running out of emotional/financial resources is EXACTLY what our "deep pockets" district counts on. It doesn't matter that we had a "case"; Due Process is too dependent on the whims of the hearing officer who is making the ruling, and thus too unpredictable for us to gamble to that extent.

We finally pulled the plug on the attorney AND the school district, and enrolled our son in a private school this year that we can't afford but that has made a huge, positive difference in his life. (Our suburban monolith high school with 35 kids in a class and a five minute window to dash between classes was just not a sustainable scenario for him.)

Hang tough, Amy, and just keep breathing. You can do this, and Noah is a lucky kiddo to have you in his corner!

Sarah

GO AMY GO!!! Keep us updated.

Virginia

Looking forward to hearing the run down on this. Good luck with the wrangle - sounds like the district is short on resources and the special ed kids are taking part of the hit.

I'm trying to decide whether or not to get stinky with our district over Maxx's 1 hour 15 minute bus ride both ways to school. He's been doing O.K. but last week things started to go downhill. I know the district is struggling - BIL is on the school board and our Superintendent has been fighting tooth & nail in Albany (on his own very skinny dime) for us as often as he can. Everyone is suffering but . . . . my poor little boy is so tired and stressed.

Suzanne

I think the principal was counting on you being a clueless mom-of-a-kindergartener who didn't know her child's rights under IDEA.

She thought wrong.

I'll hold your earrings.

(Our principal in Maryland was incredible, and even called the initial IEP meeting, but here in Florida, they weren't quite prepared for us coming in with 200 sheets of documentation about my son!)

greg

at the risk of sounding, well, less than nice:

amy: fuckin' destroy 'em. they can't take back ground you fought years to capture for your son. i will watch with glee as you flay them in little pieces with yer word thingies you do so well. sounds like someone got lazy and they are about to feel the not so soft hand of someone not letting them off the hook...LOUDLY awesome.

Claudia

You go, Amy!

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