Sheila or Martie, or anybody else who might know..

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by mistmouse, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    Many times I have seen Sheila say she has written a letter for clarification or such and then requested that it become a part of her difficult children file. What do you do if you make this request and you get a return letter refuting what you clarified and refusing to make either letter a part of the file?

    At the last IEP meeting, which the school district requested, we were supposedly there to clarify a couple of points on the BIP. However, the school district had counsel present even though they knew I did not have counsel to attend this IEP meeting with me. It became quite obvious quickly into the IEP meeting that it was not about "clarifying" anything in the BIP. Instead the meeting was to try to alter the BIP so that difficult child could not be successful, we would get to her 10 days of suspension rather rapidly, have a manifestation hearing, and then determine where difficult child should be instead. I might also add that other then the PLP reports, the school district's attorney ran the meeting. At one point I had to ask for a break as I was about to break. This was just after I objected to the changes that would result in failure for difficult child, and the school district's attorney asked me, "Do you think we are trying to get rid of her?" I of course answered, "That is exactly what I believe."

    OK, we got through the IEP meeting, and I was waiting for my copy of the IEP to be finished typing and printing. I asked the case manager on the computer if she had gotten my comment in the parent input about feeling at a disadvantage and intimidated because the school district had counsel when I did not. She read that part out to me and I told her that the wording reflected what I had said in the meeting. Well, the SpEd director was stil in the room and he began to object to that being in the IEP. He said it needed to be reworded to make it clear it was just my feelings, and that I wasn't actually intimidated. I told him it needed to remain as I had stated it in the meeting. It took about three attempts, but finally he realized I was telling him it was in the parent input and therefore should remain as I said it. Then he began to ask me over and over just how I felt intimidated, and exactly when did I begin to feel intimidated. I told him I was intimidated from the moment I realized they had counsel present and I did not, and that I remained intimidated and unable to meaningfully participate in my daughter's IEP due to their attorney running the meeting.

    OK, then I leave and afterwards I decide to write a letter of clarification regarding his intimidation techniques in trying to get me to say I was not intimidated. I also wanted a record of him attempting to have my comments removed from the parent input of the IEP. I typed my letter, then I requested it be put in my daughter's permanent file. Well, about three weeks later I get a letter from the SpEd director, first of all saying that I was attempting to have things added to the IEP after the meeting was over, and that his only attempt was in making sure it was in the correct place. He then told me that they were within their rights to have the attorney there as they are allowed to invite whomever they want to the meeting. OK, I realize they can have their attorney there even if I do not have one, but then he goes on to tell me I was not intimidated. Excuse me, as much as you might like to believe you can tell me how I felt and it will be so, you cannot possibly know how I was feeling. I felt intimidated. Who would not when the school district had counsel present and I did not? Then he says that he will not be adding the letter to my daughter's file.

    So, how do you get them to agree to that? This isn't the first time I have been told that my letter will not become a part of the file.

    Of course I am going to write another letter to clarify once again exactly what I said cannot possibly know how I felt. I am also going to nicely turn his words around to show who was actually having the problem understanding the parent input. Should I cc it to the state director of SpEd so that there is a record of this for future reference?

    By the way, difficult child started 7th grade this year, which is jr. high here, and her first experience with 8 teachers and changing classes. She is doing quite well considering, but she just isn't compliant enough for them, hence they wanted to change the BIP so that they could not be bothered with having to follow her IEP. difficult child has only been sent home three times this year, only one time for a justified reason...she did hit a boy in the mouth after he hit her in the head with a ball in PE. He had braces, so his mouth bled. She was suspended the remainder of the day and the following day for that. Other than that, they tried to send her home one day because she was asked to leave class (again for refusing to work with a group) with the inclusion teacher, she refused, the principal was called, and difficult child left with him. She was going to be sent home because she refused to leave with the one teacher. Her IEP states if she refuses to leave with staff person, she will be asked to leave with the administrator, and if she does not further action will be taken. She was sent home another time for stretching in class and her ruler hitting the arm of the boy next to her. Then she was sent home a third time for pushing a girl's hand out of her face. So, all in all, she is doing pretty good. I didn't understand why they were wanting to alter the BIP so that they could get rid of her. But then they have been trying to get rid of her since she started school.

    Thanks for any help from anybody.

  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I read your post earlier this morning, and my first reaction wasn't good so I thought I'd wait until my blood pressure went back down to reply. But smoke is still billowing out of my ears.

    You already know what they are up to and that they'll stop at nothing to intimidate and strong-arm you, so in that they have chosen to act in this manner I'd get the clarification in whether they "agree" or not.

    I'd do that by filing a Complaint addressed to:

    U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
    U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
    U.S. Department of Education, Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO)
    Head Honcho of your State Education Agency

    If memory serves correctly, you must cc it to your school district.

    I'd also cc it to:
    OSEP - Compliance Monitoring Department
    OCR - Compliance Monitoring Department
    FPCO - Compliance Monitoring Department
    SEA - Special Education Compliance Monitoring Department
    SEA - Section 504 Compliance Monitoring Department
    SEA - FERPA Compliance Monitoring Department

    I'd certainly state that the school district allowed their attorney to preside over the meeting.

    It could be that these governing agencies do nothing more than go through the motions of addressing your Complaint, however, your clarifications will be a matter of record -- whether the school district likes it or not. And whether the school district likes it or not, others will be made aware of their bullying and intimidating tactics.

    Taking this action may be like throwing gas on a fire or they may back off.... You'll have consider all factors.

    On the upside, their action is a backhanded compliment in a way, e.g., they apparently felt they needed to bring out the "big guns" to control the parent.

    It's a sad state of affairs when school district's refuse to be professionals. When a school district refuses to place a parent's letter in the file, I can't help but wonder what else they are trying to hide.

    Sorry you have to deal with this.
  3. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    You original question was how to get something in writing included in the file. I suppose there is no SURE way, but there is a a tactic that will backfire on them if they do not do it.

    Write the letter you intend and LABEL it "Further Parent Input" and specifically direct them to include it in the file for the meeting you attended. Send it CERTIFIED and RETURN RECEIPT REQUIRED and then keep the receipts you get. If you go to Due Process, or any of the agencies Sheila listed asks for proof, you can prove that the school district forwarded an incomplete file to them. This is big No-No and is withholding evidence. While not a court proceeding, these agencies are run by lawyers who expect rules to be followed.

    It makes my blood boil, too, that the school district would bring an attorney when you were not represented (did they notify you that they would be represented? If not, put that in the letter, too) but that the LET THE ATT'Y RUN THE MEETING is over the top. I am so antagonistic to these tactics that I would have asked for the attorney's credentials for modifying BIPs and if there were none, I would have asked to have the meeting run by a competent party. The law specifies "highly qualified staff" that means highly qualified for the activity at hand. Do not take the above too literally, it could be the gasoline you do not want, but it still makes me very angry.

    When ex-difficult child was in middle school, the school district attorney was at IEP meetings and I objected as we were unrepresented. She sat mute at the end of the table and did not communicate with staff during the meeting. The principal told me he felt she was there watching HIM to make sure he did not make a legal error because we had ME. I told him that was faulty reasoning because I am not an attorney. At that point, I was getting what MrNo needed so I let it go, but I would NOT have let her run the meeting (nor would she have tried...but in principle, an attorney does not run an IEP meeting.)

    Follow Sheila's advice about contacting agencies....I am just venting but you have struggled so long with this school district and difficult child sounds as if she is doing much better, that this just ENRAGES ME that they would try to set her up!

    In the OSEP commentary to IDEA, there is a section that states that while neither party is BARRED from bringing attorneys to IEP meetings, it is not preferred. Commentary is not law but it is OSEP's position.

    I wish you all the best in your continued struggle as a :warrior: :warrior:

  4. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    Thanks Sheila and Martie for the input. I will have to consider what my next step is, and in fact while we have been in litigation for almost the entire time my daughter has been in school, I do not know how to proceed with the processes Sheila mentions. I will have to do further research on how to take that action.

    I kind of like your idea, Martie, about sending another letter labeled "further parent input" and requesting it be included. I did send my initial letter of clarification certified mail, return receipt requested. I did get the notice for the IEP meeting with the school district's attorney listed as being invited. At that time I wrote a letter expressing my concerns regarding them having counsel when I did not, and specified in that letter that I would be at a disadvantage and that it would prevent me from being able to meaningfully participate in my daughter's IEP meeting. I did not hear back from them, although I requested in writing to know whether they were going to still have counsel present. The day of the IEP meeting, I got up out of my sick bed to attend, so wasn't really on my best game anyway, then they have their attorney present. Like I said, after the PLP was given by the teachers, the attorney ran the IEP meeting. How could the SpEd not think I was intimidated when I had faced this same attorney in two due process hearings? It just seems that no matter what improvements difficult child makes it is just never going to be enough for this school district. They have always held her to a higher standard than others because she has an IEP. The time I was called to come and get her when she pushed the girl's hand out of her face, I asked the VP if he sends home every student who pushes in the halls while changing classes. Bet you can't guess what his respons was? Yep, "difficult child has an IEP."

    Thanks for the support, and I will most likely be asking for further help if I decide to take this further.

  5. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Good point, Marti.

    Actually, MM, somewhere in the 2003-2004 era when we were having so many problems with-this type nonsense, without filing a formal Complaint I did write to TEA and OSEP requesting that XISD be put on their complaint monitoring list.

    I don't know if they actually did it, but it served it's purpose which was to document that the school district nor SEA was doing their job -- leaving no room for "we didn't know" excuses.