Hellacious IEP meeting

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by flutterby, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    difficult child had a *massive* panic attack of epic proportions. She was sobbing uncontrollably, hyperventilating, and literally frozen in place. It took me and the art therapist to get her up out of her chair to take her outside where we sat on the steps and I knelt in front of her rubbing her legs, getting her to focus on me, and spent 15 minutes just getting her to breathe. The episode continued for another 2 hours, but at least she was breathing and able to talk. I didn't think ahead or I would have brought a PRN with me.

    I ended up missing at least half of the meeting, and while I was in the meeting I was so focused on difficult child that I wasn't able to effectively advocate for her, or even pay attention to what the rest of the team was discussing. The only good thing is that these people have finally seen what I've been telling them for years, but I swear I've never seen anyone that could watch that happen in front of them and act like nothing was going on. therapist, CPS caseworker, and art therapist were all very concerned, as were the other teachers we met on the way out of the building, but guidance counselor, sped director, mental health liaison (whom I'd never met before), and lead teacher all went on as if nothing was happening....while my child is hyperventilating right next to them! I was fighting back tears because all a panicking difficult child needs is a mom falling apart, right? Sped director had another meeting to get to and she just wanted to wrap things up. :mad:

    And, of course, nothing changed. They went into the meeting with the mindset that nothing was going to change. Meanwhile, I called the meeting because I see difficult child ending up in psychiatric hospital again if something didn't change and difficult child is saying that she'd rather be in the hospital than at that school.

    Backstory - she was transferred to a therapeutic alternative school 3 weeks ago. In theory it seemed like a perfect fit. It's obviously not. She's had multiple meltdowns in school - which she has *never* done before, she calls me from school everyday - which she doesn't do, and I've had to take her a PRN to school - which I've never had to do before. I realize that we are pushing difficult child outside of her comfort zone and that needs to happen at some point, but she was just finding stability and I don't think she's had enough stability to be pushed. I think that the only way she is going to learn anything at this school, as it is independent study, is if I'm there everyday to teach her and if I'm going to do that, I might as well have her home. And that's if I can get her there.

    CPS is wanting caseworker to close the case because it's not an abuse or neglect situation, but caseworker is keeping it open because she wants to advocate for both me and difficult child. She wants to brainstorm with school district's that have excellent sped programs, to at least see if they have any ideas on how to work with this school if we can't do an out of district transfer. She is also worried that difficult child is going to end up in psychiatric hospital again and wants to keep the case open for that reason as well.

    therapist and caseworker did an excellent job advocating for difficult child and explaining what we are dealing with with difficult child. I just really don't think this school district gives a damn.
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Golly, Heather, I was hoping this woudl be good for her. Obviously, its not.

    I'm glad therapist was a good advocate.

    How could they even continue the meeting without you? I don't think they can...

    I'm sorry.
  3. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    They shouldn't have continued the meeting without me, but they had already made up their minds before they got there. I just sent an email to 4 of the people asking them to summarize what was discussed while I was away taking care of difficult child.

    My mom thinks I should pull difficult child out and homeschool her again. That says a lot, as my mom wasn't big on it before. I'm not making any decisions right now.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Heather, I'm sorry this school seems to be making things worse. Wish I had some answers. I have some hugs though.

  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry, Heather. Hugs to you and difficult child.
  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    How utterly horrible. I'm in shock that the school did nothing while all of this was going on with difficult child!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you expressed your disappointment/anger at this situation! I'm sorry difficult child is struggling so much right now. Keeping her in my prayers.
  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Thank you for the support ladies. I am so drained...stressed....anxious.

    Sharon, I was so focused on difficult child and trying to keep her as calm as possible, which isn't saying much, that I didn't confront anyone at that time. However, I'm not letting this go. I have things to look into, options to consider, people to talk to.

    Is there a process to follow if I disagree with placement? They consider this school a therapeutic alternative school, but therapeutic is really stretching it. I've had 5 conversations in 3 weeks with the same person at the alt school regarding the same thing, in regard to the independent study and how we need to do that to make it work for difficult child, and nothing was done. In 3 weeks, she has done one math sheet, no science, no history, a little health, and a creative writing assignment that isn't complete. That is ridiculous.

    difficult child has given up. She turns 16 in February and she wants to drop out and get a GED. If nothing changes, I am having a hard time coming up with an argument against it.
  8. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    A sign of how bad things are: difficult child asked me to lie down with her when she went to bed. I stroked her hair like when she was little, and sang the songs I used to sing to her. She's really struggling.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Wow. So sad. And aggravating.
    I'm glad that at least you can be a comfort for her.
    I don't know what to suggest. Wish I could be of more help.
    Many hugs.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    On the subject of the meeting continuing under these circumstances:
    If your presence is needed for this meeting (as I believe it is, or it's not a valid IEP meeting) then from the point where your attention was elsewhere and you were outside trying to calm her down, the meeting officially was halted. Any decisions taken while you were not present, are not valid decisions and are not endorsed by you. They need to know this and the remainder of the meeting needs to be rescheduled and held again.

    And if they had already made up their minds, then again, they do not 'get' what an IEP meeting is for, nor do they understand how it is supposed to work.

    I was head of a committee where a couple of members were trying to make trouble, and especially trying to get rid of me. The committee was made up of the two troublemakers, three members who supported me enthusiastically, and two others who did not know me well and were easily swayed. A meeting was requested by the troublemakers and was held at the workplace of one of these troublemakers. But not all members of the committee were notified with sufficient notice as to the time and place of the meeting. It was obvious to me that I was being set up - the only members unable to attend due to lack of notice, were my supporters. So I was there, unsupported, while the two troublemakers were becoming increasingly aggressive. I am certain the aim was to make me angry so I would alienate the two new members who were fence-sitters. So I made a huge effort to stay calm and also not react with fear, when the troublemaker slammed his fist down onto the desk in front of me. Instead, I announced at that point, "I have just determined that there was insufficient notice given for this meeting, to all members. Therefore I have just realised that this meeting is unconstitutional. I cannot even declare this meeting closed, since it should never have been declared open. Any decisions and discussion we have had, are void and invalid. I have a lot of work to do at home. Goodbye." And I left.

    Of course, the other troublemaker began emailing everybody (including people not on the committee, who should not have been told this sort of stuff, it was breaching confidentiality) and announcing that I had "stormed out of a properly constituted meeting". I had to continue to quietly stand my ground and sent to all those who had been contacted in this way, a note explaining why I had WALKED out (disrespect shown; nothing being achieved even with an informal discussion; meeting found to be unconstitutional anyway) and the inappropriateness for them to have been dragged into it.

    Too often, people get emotional in this situation or at these sort of meetings. Or they don't follow through sufficiently, especially if they feel intimidated. With this meeting, the aim was clearly to intimidate me and push me into resigning in tears. Or make me look so bad, I would get voted out. It was very naive. But too often, this is how people behave. And it backfires.

    Anyone who deals with formal meeting procedure on a regular basis learns how it should be done. I have seen meetings dragged off the rails by people who dislike official procedure, but whenever there are problems, conflict issues or a power-hungry person trying to drive things where they want and not where the meeting attendees really agree, then falling back on insistence of proper meeting procedure will save your bacon.

    In this case - I think it's time to say, "The proper meeting procedure was not followed from the point where the panic attack started. Any decisions made after that point were not made officially through the process of the formal IEP meeting and I require this meeting to be re-convened so the necessary decisions can be taken officially."

    If they come back and say, "Oh no, you are wrong, we did finish the meeting, here are the minutes," then dig out the regulations which say it's not official if you are not there, and point this out. Find the law and use it. Draw a line on the minutes with a red pen and make it clear - "the meeting was halted prematurely at this point."

    Also, the meeting before the meeting is not acceptable, if they are merely using the IEP meeting to tell you what they have already decided. They can have things they want to advise you, or to suggest, but all decisions have to be agreed on at the IEP meeting. How do they know you haven't got vital input that could change how they see things?

    Go sort them out.

  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry. They behaved reprehensibly. Have you spoken with the superintendent of schools, or would that do any good? Would the therapist and case worker back up your complaint? in my opinion it is time to look into due process. If your daughter gets her GED, what services can she get to help her find a job that she could do? in my opinion keeping her in school gives you 2 more years to try to get services that the school can be forced to pay for, even if you have to force due process or some other means of paying for it. If she drops out there are NO funds avail to help her except what you and your family can pay.

    Have you applied for SSI for her? Is she going to need disability when she turns 18? What skills will she need to learn to be able to live on her own, if that is possible? You have 2 yrs before she turns 18 to try to help her learn these. This school is not going to help much. I DO think the IEP meeting needs to be reconvened, but don't know what, if any, change that will bring about.

    Maybe seeing that you know the law will do some good, but if they pull this koi with a therapist and cps caseworker there, they clearly don't care.

    I am so very sorry. Can vocational rehab help difficult child learn living skills? (dept of vocational rehabilitation, that is). Just trying to think of places that could help her because she is clearly going to need substantial help before she will have a chance of living on her own and holding down a job.

    Give her a hug for me. Panic attacks are just horrible. Tell her she isn't alone and lots of us are sending hugs.
  12. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Apparently, "no decisions were made after left the meeting". The alt school and therapist are going to talk more about what works for difficult child. I would like to have it noted that therapist didn't say *anything* that I haven't said for years - she just used words like hippocampus when explaining it. *insert frustration*

    difficult child did not go to school today. She's in full blown school refusal now. No surprise there. Caseworker is going to come out today - difficult child really wants to talk to her which is a first. I guess she finally realized Friday that caseworker is an ally (however you spell it - on our side). Lead teacher from alt school called and is now really into wanting to talk to me about what to do to make things work for difficult child. Just because I've already had this discussion with her 5 times in the last 3 weeks...... I guess seeing difficult child totally lose it, and me and therapist calling out - indirectly and directly - things that lead teacher has said and done made a difference. Unfortunately, it may be too little, too late for difficult child. But, I did talk to lead teacher for a few minutes today and boy is she falling all over herself. She is going to call back at 1:45 when the school day is over.

    Yes, I'm angry. I'm frustrated. I want to SCREAM at these people. Of course, I won't. But, I will say what needs to be said.

    Nothing is set in stone - other than difficult child has to stay at the alt school according to home school for the time being. I don't know if an out of district placement would change that, but we're going to find out. After that meeting, difficult child does NOT want to go back to home school and....well, I don't know. Once she gets something in her head like that, it's hard to get out.

    Susie, difficult child receives services through MR/daughter (not that the school cared) and they will help with job skills/placement starting at 16. We also do have vocational rehab.

    The really sad things is, difficult child *wants* to learn. She wants to go to college. She wants to go into forensic science. Whether that would be doable because of her struggles with math (although, she is just barely below average in math), remains to be seen. But, she has goals. The school district knows this. And their reaction? Well, I think she's reaching if she thinks she can go into that field. And you know what? She might be. But, let's look at the fact that she has a goal, something she wants to do, that she wants to learn, that most of her anxiety is that she isn't learning in the classroom (her classroom grades have never reflected her test scores - not even close), and instead of being critical, be happy - proud - that she wants to do something in her life.

    My feeling on this is, while I would *love* to hold the school accountable and go to due process, get an attorney and all that, difficult child is ultimately the one that suffers. We have other options: out of district placement, homeschooling, etc. If we didn't have other options, it would be different. But, I can't see how subjecting difficult child to the same failed situation is going to help at all.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, I think what may have happened here, is that finally seeing the severe panic attack for themselves has finally told these people far more, than all the parent-teacher conferences have ever managed. Somewhere in their heads, these people are saying, "Whoops! We really got it wrong!" and they're falling over themselves trying to fix things NOW.

    It would be easy for you to tear them a new one now, but it would be pointless. The important thing - they do get it now. Yes, it may be too little too late, but it is still worth grabbing and using. Grit your teeth and accept the concern and the "what can we do?" conferences as they are offered.

    As for difficult child's possibly over-optimistic goal - as you said, at least it is a goal. And also, her goal may be too unrealistic (just as the staff finally getting the idea now, could be considered fairly pointless) but I agree with you, let her have her goal. Further down the track she may choose to modify her goal to something related. But what she will have managed to achieve in the meantime will give her a head start in something else. Nothing is ever wasted.