School battle update, incredible turn of events

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Farmwife, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Yesterday I was devastated by the poor turn of events at difficult child's needs assessment meeting. I posted here and some of you generously offered kindness. The school was a little intimidated after my certified letter because I cited IDEA laws but as soon as they realized I had no lawyer they started playing games again.

    Today I am back with what may be the origin of what could become a huge mess for the school.

    Yesterday I called a number that the state board of ed. gave me for civil rights issues. I wasn't sure who exactly I was calling but the gentleman who helped me was one of the kindest most helpful people I have ever encountered in Special Education issues. He seemed genuinely concerned over my issues, one of which was the failed 504 6 months ago.

    I also mentioned IEP may not happen due to good grades for 3 months. Apparently Congress had to pass extra provisions in disability law to include something very relevant to all of us. The gist of it is that if your child is doing well on medications they cannot deny disability status for iep if your child would be doing poorly without the medications.

    I was floored. :surprise: I have the code number if anyone needs it.

    Even though I just wanted to know IF I had grounds to complain the more he helped me the more I felt like maybe I should file a complaint. He kept quoting case law and actually voluntarily brainstorming ways in which the school has made critical mistakes. I innocently asked him who I should forward the info. to, the state board? His tone when he replied was priceless.

    He said "No, Mam, this is the Federal Government, you reached the civil rights division of the United States Department of Education! I guess there may be an ADA violation. The nice guy is one of the actual investigators but he handles a different state.


    Motivated by that information I spent the night in a manic fit reading every single state and federal code in triplicate. I process very very well in that beautiful zone...amazing things happen.

    I may also have grounds for a complaint to the Department of Justice as well. Not sure yet. ADA in itself, IEP and 504 are all moderated by different agencies.

    I also discovered that the school has violated well over a dozen state and just as many federal laws, violated my sons rights and my rights as a parent. I also made a point to express that clearly in writing to the school today.

    I'm thinking things are going to get very interesting around here pretty soon.
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Way To Go, Warrior Mom! :warrior:
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Whoa Nelly! You go girl!
  4. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    That is totally AWESOME! Way to kick hiney, Farmwife!
  5. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Farmwife- you are doing an excellent job advocating for your child. You have done an amazing job of educating yourself and getting the ducks in line. Keep it up.

    I am going to caution you very strongly here about getting OCR (Office of Civil Rights - handles ADA complaints) involved at this stage of the game. I'm not sure from your post if you actually contacted OCR or if you got OSEP. You have more than ample grounds for a complaint to the state board of ed, and I would follow thru with that. If that doesn't get you the results you need, I'd then start working thru the Office of Special Education programs (OSEP - the fed branch that covers Special Education). It will take time but you don't want to start too many fires at one time. The goal is to get your child appropriate services. The problem with OCR is that if you get them involved, and they rule against you, it's basically game over.

    Quick story. IDEA states free and appropriate education in least restrictive environment, with activities with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent possible, including lunch and nonacademic classes. My non-difficult child sped kiddo is severely physically disabled. Not a behavior problem, not a disruption, just has multiple disabilities. He is alert, aware, and I suspect far closer to normal cognitive function than anyone in our school district would like to admit. He does not require a single service that is not currently offered in our local HS. But... the practice up here is that severely disabled students are *not* served in their neighborhood schools. They're schlepped off to "co-ops", segregated programs that in my experience are not necessarily even in schools (Boo spent a couple years in an administration building where they were warehousing the severely disabled classes). This isn't based on needs or IEPs. It's driven by severity of disability, period. Blatant violation of IDEA, in my humble opinion. When Boo started HS, I put my foot down and demanded he be placed in our HS, not the admin building. Again, every service he requires is provided in our local HS. I filed an OCR complaint on behalf of students who were in the admin building (because I was getting a *lot* of flack from our school district over my demand). OCR somehow felt that segregation and exclusion based on disability was *not* a violation of civil rights. I finally bit the bullet and consulted one of the top sped attorneys in the city. We had an excellent case against school district, but he was very unhappy that I had filed the OCR complaint because since they had ruled they way they did, they had sanctioned the garbage the school district was pulling. He said OCR was the very last resort, ever. If we had had the $20,000 minimum it would have taken to hire atty, we would've eventually won, but my OCR complaint would have made his job that much harder. A year of this garbage, 3 huge binders filled with certified letters and documentation of the school district's garbage, and my son suffering at the hands of a very retaliatory school district... I gave up.

    To this day, I do not understand how segregation based solely on disability *isn't* a violation of both ADA and IDEA, but we simply didn't/don't have the financial resources to fight this practice.

    Keep working with- school district, keep on educating yourself. Get ISBE/OSEP involved. At some point, it might be well worth the $$$ to consult a sped attorney. But do tread cautiously in terms of how many complaints/agencies you get involved at one time because you may very well get blind-sided.

    I don't mean to discourage you. I think you're doing a great job. But this is IL and in my experience at least, implementation of IDEA is haphazard and rather random, and the very agencies that are supposed to support our kids can do the exact opposite.
  6. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Thanks for the smell of coffee, everything you say is correct. I'd like to add comment or even seek your opinion on some things. Not to be contradictory at all, merely a brainstorming session if you will.

    I'm not discouraged, just need to rein in my enthusiasm and forge ahead carefully. New ideas always help me regain focus.

    I'm sure by now you get the theme of my hopes. I can crash and burn miserably too. Fortunately as I mentioned my difficult child only needs minimal help that if I must I can provide. Maybe it is selfish of me to imagine him as the foot in the door of a much bigger agenda. Shame on me for that. I just can't stand seeing bully districts literally abuse a poor first grader with aspergers. He can't help being disabled. I would much rather beat the teacher up but we all know how that would end.

    I'm angry and sad in ways words cannot describe.

    Suggestions from all greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2010
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Please understand. I am bitter beyond words and that very much colors my opinion. ;) I let my kid down by not having the intestinal fortitude to fight the good fight. But it really came down to how poorly he was being treated by school district staff and my own exhaustion from dealing with- this junk day in and day out for a solid school year.

    Like you, I wanted to change the system. I wanted to bring an end to the segregation of students whose only issue was the severity of their disability. Don't misunderstand - I think that if a student's behavior (a la my own difficult child) affects the academic environment then a segregated placement is appropriate. But to exclude students simply because of their physical disability... well it still disgusts me beyond words.

    Do not underestimate your school district's bag of dirty tricks. Do not underestimate the depths the school district will go to. Do not underestimate especially your school district's attorney. And more than anything else, do not underestimate the emotional and physical toll that this battle will take on you and, by extension, your family.

    You can look at due process decisions on the ISBE site. IL is notorious for being anti-parent in DP hearings. I don't remember the stats anymore, since I gave up ;) , but I seem to recall something like more than 90% of parents who go to DP without an atty lose. With an atty, I still think the majority of parents lose, but it's closer to 50/50.

    From my very bitter and opinionated corner of the state, there is no accountability when it comes to compliance with- IDEA. I suspect there are too many parents like me who have been absolutely flattened by SDs. In the end, it boiled down to protecting my child or continuing to fight on principal. My kid won out.

    on the other hand - I absolutely agree with- you that the only way this is going to change is via a grass roots uprising of parents/guardians, preferably with a couple or three with very deep pockets. Just my experience - it was impossible to network with other parents. The co-op did a brilliant job of keeping us separate (under the guise of confidentiality). The few parents I did have contact with actually wanted their kids separate because of they were scared of bullying in their home schools. I have a different take on it, probably because we started out in 2 states where physically disabled students were fully included and where parents/guardians of sped students were encouraged to participate in the school district via advisory boards, etc. I've seen inclusion in action, I've seen school district's who followed IDEA, I've seen it work.

    I don't want to discourage you. Again, my perspective is very very biased based on our experiences. If you choose to fight the whole system, you need to make sure you eat your Wheaties daily and be prepared for a potentially of a bottomless bag of retaliation and dirty tricks from the school district. If you can get other like-minded parents together, I think you'll have a much better chance of raising the alarm with the feds, who ultimately are the ones (on paper) who are supposed to be monitoring state compliance and enforcing IDEA. But you're taking on a *huge* battle against an school district that has comparatively unlimited resources to fight, and you're going after a practice that is ingrained - provide the minimum services at a maximum of hassle.

    *Just* my opinion. Nothing would make me happier than to see you continue on, successfully.
  8. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Brief update

    Called state board.

    Can file complaint with- board over any violations of IDEA

    Seperately and concurrently I can file a complaint with civil rights dept. of dept. of ed for 504 violations.

    Apples and oranges...this is where I will start assuming I find state board complaint decision can be appealled, or not..? The 504 issue is a non issue now since on to IEP. Any decision in that regard will not hinder new situation with IEP battle.
  9. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member


    Discouraging dose of reality.

    You have touched my sense of maternal instincts to protect. However, now I feel painted into a corner. Events have been set into motion, the die has been cast.

    One option is that I sign incomplete parental consent, thereby allowing them to refuse needed tests in order to push their agenda not to approve iep. Then difficult child gets no services. Due to my failed attempt difficult child would get no help, the same thing he was getting only this time he will be punished for my asking the right questions, doing the right thing. In the end he ends up worse off.

    The other option is fight tooth and nail, maybe win, maybe lose. If I win there is no assurance they will comply, back to square one. If I lose refer to point one, difficult child punished for my asking for help.

    In the end the only original choice was to shut up and let my son fail without abuse from the school.


    Ask the right questions in the long shot of maybe getting help at the risk of abuse by school district.

    The choice was assured failure vs. assured abuse.

    So you see, I have nothing left to lose. Even if I crash and burn miserably I stood tall. I understand the exhaustion, oh believe me I do. But like I said, when it comes to difficult child I have nothing else to lose because his future was lost the day he walked into an American public school. I pay taxes and due to that I cannot afford a private school

    Bitter irony, that.

    I say all of this not to lecture you slsh. You have been a sobering and MUCH needed voice. I scribe these thoughts so I can return and when I am weary from the grueling battle that we all know is to come, I will know why I started down that path.

    If I am to die I would rather do so on my feet than my knees. I accept that I may be walking into a figurative slaughter. I do so with eyes wide open.

    I love my son no matter how much suffering he has caused me. Under neath all of that anger is my sweet little boy who can't help the affliction he was struck with, it isn't his fault. So I close knowing that I cannot go meekly into the night. Every struggle in difficult child's life as an adult that he may not be prepared for I will know I fought with every ounce of my soul.

    If not now then when?
    If not us then whom?
  10. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Yet another update, twists and turns like a nausea inducing roller coaster. This is almost more exciting than Christmas morning.

    I spent the day planning a full on campaign. I had hundreds details spelled out to the microscopic level ie;

    -Hunting down soon to grad. law school students from top schools who may be eager to make a name for themselves
    -Starting a non profit org. for a local class action suit with a website to accept donations for a legal fund
    -alerting the media
    -alerting every governmental representative from my local county board up to the Prez. himself plus everyone in between

    I had every intention of a full out, multi year battle. I was ready, ready in ways I have never been before in life.

    Then it happened, the school called and rolled over like a scared puppy. The co-director of our bi county spec. ed co-op called, never met her before. She was so butt kissy I think I'll have a hickey on my booty cheek for a week. Wanted to know what she could do to work this situation out. Wanted to see if there was some way to come to an understanding amongst ourselves.

    Oh reeeaaallllly? (said in obnoxious Jim Carey voice)

    Have an intimate meeting with her, the school psychiatric and myself, no other team members. Just us three ladies chatting, becoming great friends and not at the school under rude admins. prying eyes. We will meet at the co-ops office down the street from school.

    Enter sinister laugh here------->____(muah ha ha ha ha)________________!!!!

    I'm thinking when it comes down to brass tacks and laws being broken the individuals involved are not protected by the selfish district or the employee union. Plus my 5 pages of hellfire and brimstone describing what laws they broke and where they could stuff their paperwork must have rattled some rocks in their heads. Bear in mind it was coherent and professionally written, not ranting at all. Just stated the facts and I had others proof read it. (just mentioning that since I admitted being manic when I wrote it) It was just very strongly worded.

    I told the lady that this whole 6 month nightmare was ridiculous especially considering that all I wanted was a tutor/mentor during study hall so difficult child could be accountable for homework and grades but not at home due to OD issues. He needs sports for socialization issues and he needs grades up to stay in sports. That's it. No bells and whistles, no big expense, it could be someone already on staff. Simple as that.

    I bet they all feel a bit stupid now. Maybe if they had bothered letting me speak my piece they would have known that already. *grits teeth*

    I may still be shown some obstacles but the control is certainly in my hands for now. I won, it's almost over. Almost anticlimactic. I'm still sad though. I may have won but I can't get the bitter thoughts about a bullied aspergers kid who is all of 6 years old or the kid who never got the fm listening device.

    I won and I feel bad for selling out.

    I have half a mind to get the iep in place and file the civil rights complaint anyway. It would serve them right. That violation never vanished.
  11. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Self-preservation isn't selling out.

    I think you might be an excellent parent advocate. You might consider helping other parents in your school district navigate through the sped process.