Spring Break is Over... Aggravations Are Back

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by momslove, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. momslove

    momslove Battle Weary

    Today was the first day back after Spring Break. No trouble getting the kiddos around this morning, no bickering or dragging feet. It felt like a really good start to the day. :) And for them, it was... from what they said after getting back from school, both seem to have had a pretty good day, which is always music to mom's ears. I'm envious and wish my morning had gone as well as their day did.

    I had to call the school this morning, to discuss a couple of things:

    (1) I needed to cancel tomorrow morning's scheduled IEP meeting. We just can't afford for husband to take off work right now, and I hoped to schedule a meeting for this Saturday. husband is a truck driver, and while he (normally) doesn't work on the weekends, he is on call 24/7 through the week, and never knows for certain if his day will start in the morning or the middle of the night, and when he is dispatched, it may be with as little as two hours notice, so it's impossible to know when he will have free time that doesn't entail missing work. We knew we likely had zero chance of them agreeing, but wanted to ask, in any case.

    (2) I wanted to make sure that difficult child would be allowed to go to his regular classes, and not spend the entire day on the computer. Since it was discovered he was behind in his online lessons, difficult child has not been allowed to attend his regular classes. (Art, music, and biology.) He talked to me about it over spring break, saying how sad he was about having to miss art, and hoping he would be allowed to go back. I didn't see any reason for him to NOT be allowed to go to these classes, because he had done the required amount of lessons to catch up during his 3 day at-home placement. (It was also the condition of him being allowed to return to school after the 3 days were up.)

    I knew he was to be kept on the computer all day his first day back, but that continued for the next 2 days as well (because he hadn't done enough lessons on day 1 of his return). The next day (the Friday before spring break started) he had a day of at-home placement again, because the principal said they couldn't make him do "anything at all" and he didn't know what else to do... that the "only" thing that seemed to work on difficult child was paddling. He clearly wanted to be given permission to do so, but we permanently rescinded permission to do so last year after a discipline issue with our other child. (We were given the choice of a swat or 3 days suspension as punishment for something that we didn't feel merited such strong measures. A suspension would have caused him to fail all his semester tests, which would have resulted in him failing & being held back a year. We felt we were essentially blackmailed into allowing the paddling to happen, and told the principal he would NEVER have our permission to do so, for either of our kids, ever again.)

    Anyway... so difficult child remained at home that Friday. I knew he had to do a day's worth of assignments before school started back up again, and decided to let him enjoy his break, and do the lessons at the end of it. I figured he needed it.

    I spoke to the Sped director first thing this morning. As expected, I was almost immediately shot down about a Saturday meeting. Said she'd talk to everyone about it, but it would be pretty hard to get 4 or 5 people together to meet with us on the weekend "because we all have lives, too, you know?" Yes, ma'am I understand, but when having these meetings affects our ability to pay our bills, it's a problem on our end. I explained (again) why we had difficulty setting a time/date for meetings.

    SpedDir: "Well, we have lots of options. Dad doesn't have to be there, you can come to the meeting without him."
    No. Not an option. What I forget, he remembers... we are a team and are in this together. Dad has to be there.

    SpedDir: "We can do a phone conference..."
    Not an option. If husband can't attend, it means he is working. His company, as well as customers, call him while he is en-route. So no. Not an option.

    "SpedDir: "We can even come out to your house, and have a meeting there."
    I'm sorry, but I really don't have the space to do something like that at my home. (Translation: NOT happening in this lifetime, honey. None of you are welcome in our home. We don't particularly like any of you. LOL!)

    SpedDir: "Or we can just write it up, send it home to you, and let you sign it like we've done before." No. We want to have an actual meeting this year. IEP needs to be changed, not remain as is.
    SpedDir: "Well, you did say at our last meeting that you would be just fine with that..."
    NO. I did not say that. I mentioned we had done it that way last year. I did not say I wanted to do that again this year.
    SpedDir insists, repeatedly, that I did say that... and I, idiot that I am, allowed it was possible, then said I was pretty sure I didn't say such a thing. SpedDir then says she will inquire about the possibility of a weekend meeting, and moves on.

    SpedDir: "Did you get him back on his medi... uh, did you take him to his doctor?"
    No. I haven't been able to do so yet.
    SpedDir: "Oh. Well, we need to do something, because everything that's going on is clearly a medical issue..."
    Well, I don't know. I'm not a medical doctor, so I wouldn't presume to know that.
    SpedDir: "So when do you think you can get him in to his doctor?"
    I don't know, Ms. SpedDir. I told you earlier that we can't afford for husband to miss work right now, and I haven't had much luck in finding someone else to take us to the doctor's office so far. I have had to cancel other appointments recently for that very reason.
    SpedDir: "Does difficult child get Social Security?"
    No. Why would difficult child be drawing Social Security?
    SpedDir: "Have you checked into it?"
    No. WHY would I do that?

    Before I continue, I have a question. Are school district's allowed to inquire about something like that????? Isn't that some kind of invasion of privacy or something? I was so mad that she dared to ask such a thing!

    SpedDir tries to wrap up the call, until I finally get her attention and say I have another question:

    Me: Was difficult child in his regular classes the last week of school?
    SpedDir: "I don't know. I'd have to ask Mr. XYZ about that. We may have kept him on the computer to get caught up."

    (I inform her of what I already know... that he hadn't been in regular classes... and move on.)

    Me: Will he be in art, etc. this week?
    SpedDir: I don't know. I'll have to ask Mr. XYZ about that. i don't know what they have planned.
    Me: I want him to be allowed to go to art class today. It's his one bright spot of the day, and he really enjoys the class. I want him to be allowed to go.
    SpedDir: I don't know about that. I'll have to ask Mr. XYZ. But if he is still behind on his lessions, we may need to keep him on the computer all day again. We checked today, and he didn't do hardly anything over the entire spring break... he finally did a few lessons yesterday, I don't know how many.
    Me: He did ___ amount of lessons yesterday.
    SpedDir: I don't know, I'd have to count them...
    Me: I counted them yesterday. And it was a conscious decision on my part to allow him to wait until the end of spring break to do those assignments. I saw no reason whatsoever that he should spend his entire break doing 100+ assignments. Brother is on break. The entire school is on break. difficult child deserves to have a break from school and school work just like everyone else.

    Yes. I was getting angrier with her. SpedDir CLEARLY expected difficult child to return to school with 100+ assignments having been completed over the break. And, I think, SpedDir would have been more than content to punish him for NOT doing so, given her reaction. She was clearly surprised that this was something he was ALLOWED to do. What the hell?!? :mad:

    Me: So, about art... I want him in there today...
    SpedDir: Like I said, if he's behind, he may not be able to. difficult child has to EARN the right to be in there.
    Me: Excuse me??? "Earn the right to be in there"? That is one of his classes...
    SpedDir: But it is NOT required for graduation...
    Me: Regardless, it is on difficult child's class schedule, and I want him in there. Period.
    SpedDir: Regardless, it is not a class that is required for graduation, so he do not have to be in there. I will talk to Mr. XYZ then I'll call you back and...
    Me:
    Thank you. Goodbye. *click*

    I was so furious, I was shaking. A quick look at our SDOE's website made me even more furious, because it clearly states that 1 unit of a fine arts class (music, art, or drama) is a STATE REQUIREMENT for high school graduation. An even quicker look at the school's own website revealed that very requirement is printed in this year's student handbook! SHE LIED TO ME!!!!!!!!!

    I called husband (was so upset, I dialed the wrong number by mistake), and filled him in. Bless that man, he let me rant and get it all of my chest until I calmed down. We discussed the idea of having an advocate go with us to the as-yet-unscheduled meeting, but with money being such an issue, it's probably more of a wish than something we could make happen.

    After waiting nearly 2 hours, I called the school myself, and hoped I could talk to someone other than SpedDir. No such luck, but both of us were decidedly more civil to one another than we had been at the end of the prior call. This is a horribly long post already, so I won't give a blow by blow of everything this time.

    A Saturday meeting is out. They don't want to do it. Agreed to the possibility of an after school meeting, if it was shortly after school let out. OR, if husband found himself free one morning/afternoon, that we should call & see if we could meet right then, despite the lack of notice. We did not set a meeting date/time. I agreed to discuss it with husband, pass along what SpedDir said & go from there.

    I was given the number for Ms. Official at the SDOE, in case I wanted to speak with her myself, and told the SDOE website had a downloadable copy of the Policies and Procedures manual. I informed her I knew that, and in fact, had already downloaded a copy two weeks ago. :D SpedDir seemed a bit taken aback at that. LOL

    Regarding difficult child's regular classes, specifically art, SpedDir reiterated that it was not a class that was required for graduation. I let her finish everything she said about it, including how it was just fine that he not attend a non-required class such as that, and then I took great pleasure in asking SpedDir to explain to me why it was that, on the SDOE website, it clearly said that it WAS required to have one unit of a fine arts class in order to graduate, and read it's exact wording to her. She latched on to "one unit" and pointed out that since he also takes music, art wasn't necessarily required. I pointed out that he had not attended his music class, either. She then talked about how she didn't know how long fine arts would be required due to budget cuts, etc. (Doesn't matter. It is required NOW.) Then she told me how she had spoken to difficult child's art teacher the night of their art show, and started telling me about how long difficult child takes to complete his art projects, and some he never finishes, blah blah blah. I told her I had also spoken to his art teacher that night. (His art teacher had assured us she didn't find those 'issues' to be an issue in her class, because she would rather give more time on one project that is eventually completed, than to make him stop and do the next project just because it was time to do so. She feels that nurturing the creativity is more important than keeping a strict schedule, and she isn't giving difficult child special lenience about that, either. He is not the only one who gets more time on projects.) I think she knew what I was about to tell her, because that topic was promptly dropped and small talk ensued about the art show. LOL Before she had a chance to end the call, I pointed out that difficult child had not been attending his biology class either, which is definitely required no matter what. SpedDir said he was acing that class, so it was ok if he wasn't in there all the time. (They have excuses and reasons to back up every little thing, don't they?)

    SpedDir also said (somewhere in the convo) that all kids in the HS, if they are in remediation for one of their classes, also miss out on going to art and/or music, so difficult child isn't being treated any differently from any other kid.

    I hope I got all this in there, because I've just run out of time. I have to pack husband's lunch... it's another late night start on his day.

    If anyone managed to read through this entire thing... bless you. And please forgive me for making such a lengthy post. LOL
     
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Does your district have alternative high school options? Like online courses? Ours has that plus a program where the student takes just one subject at a time, but they get an entire year's worth of instruction per quarter because it's just one subject that's covered. Sounds like this school is being really difficult with you. If he's got an IEP, what is the big deal about allowing him extra time, abbreviating assignments or other similar accommodations? It's not supposed to be this hard to help our kids!
     
  3. momslove

    momslove Battle Weary

    Yes, difficult child is currently taking 3 online courses. Two courses now, actually, because he has already completed one course and passed the EOI test. :smug: This is something they have yet to acknowledge, at least to me. Four hours a day are dedicated to his online courses, and he is (supposed to be) in the regular classroom for the remainder of his courses. Alternative (night school) is done using the online courses, as well. We are told ad nauseum that the alternative kids do 20 lessons a night, and most of them complete them within an hour. By this standard, they feel it is perfectly acceptable to expect difficult child to do 40, 60, or more lessons per day, since he spends 4 hours a day on his online courses. husband and I do not find that to be an acceptable expectation at all, which we have had to remind them of constantly. Some of the kids are in Alternative due to disciplinary issues, but others are there because they want to graduate ahead of schedule. difficult child has been skipped ahead two grade levels, and we have made it perfectly clear that he is NOT to accelerated ahead again because (if he stays on track) he will be graduating high school at 16 (almost 17) years old.

    husband and I have told them many times, over the phone and in meetings at the school, that we felt 20 lessons a day should be the goal. We said that if he were to do less than that, he should and would do them at home, so that he would have his daily 20 completed. They 'agreed' to what we suggested, but they didn't hear what we said at all. They are still of the opinion difficult child should do 40, 60 or more lessons per day at school, and ALSO do 20 at home. The principal likes to talk about how their child has homework, which takes them 3-4 hours to complete, every single day of the school week... as if to illustrate that doing homework every night was simply a part of being in school. (Ummm... wrong. It is not. NONE of my kids (easy child or difficult child) has ever had nightly homework to do.)

    I fully intend to have it written into his IEP that his daily goal (for online lessons done either at home or at school) is set at no more than 20. And to be honest, they are lucky I'm willing to consider that fair... when I was in high school, it was unusual for me to have even 2 assignments per class, per day. I guess that's just not enough nowadays...

    I have long suspected that they are trying to get difficult child out the door and out of their hair as quickly as they possibly can. I don't believe he's as far behind as they say he is. Meaning, not to the point where he is at risk of failure and having to repeat the year. But if their goal is to get him graduated well ahead of schedule? Yeah, he'd definitely be behind on that goal.

    I hate dealing with this ****. I don't know about the kiddos, but MOM is sooooooooooo ready for summer break!
     
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    You definitely need to get the goals and expectations in writing in the IEP. Otherwise there is no legal recourse for enforcing the agreement.

    Maybe it would be good for him to graduate early... he certainly wouldn't have this much garbage to deal with in college or university!
     
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