Well, slap me silly-

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by klmno, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    :slap: So, I have the meeting today with the ed spec and middle school Special Education person from school district- you know, the one the state expects you to have before you file a complaint. What do I hear from them? "Well, you know, they normally don't get involved with mental health things." :slap:

    Hellooooooo!! So, are they trying to tell me that they are required to educate all kids except those with mental health issues? Then who is supposed to educate them? He IS going to their school- regular ed- on a daily basis- do I dare think that this means they already are involved? And, OOHHH- I do asked that they look at grades and other evidence of the disability, not just behavior- Oh, GEEZ, dare I asked for this??

    Anyway, so they agree to look into it, maybe try to find someone to come educate those at school that "don't get it" (and that is an understatement), and took note (at least for looks) of my reports of some outright absurdities we've endured over the past 3 years. Then, they looked shocked when I told them that although some people in the school district apparently think that if school district is involved in treatment plan that it would mean they would need to dominate the treatment plan, and that this was not going to happen. EXCUSE ME- if the school district didn't identify the problem, had teachers that didn't report any problem, didn't have him tested (I did that privately), tried to set him up to be arrested, didn't follow IDEA and Special Education laws and tried to have him kicked out of school, haven't followed procedures for IEP meetings, FBA, BIP, or manifestation determination- and haven't implemented the current IEP, and, he only has one more year at this school- when I have spent over two years with various professionals trying to hone in on diagnosis, medications, and getting a treatment plan and team together...
    NO, they will not take over or dominate the treatment plan or team. THEY need to get on board and be flexible and cooperative with the others in difficult child's life. If they don't see the importance of this, then where do they get off thinking they have a right to be in charge of it?
    A lot was discussed- more than I have energy for right now. We'll see what happens.....

    Just needed to vent!! Thanks for being here-

    Edited to add: I probably killed every chance of any help for difficult child when I told them that I had nothing left for the school system and I didn't see how I could ever have any trust or faith in them again- just before I left the meeting. I didn't walk out on it though :) I stuck it out and said that upon leaving.

    What a joke.
     
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I had to check your location, I thought we might be in the same school district. They are all so woefully ill prepared for the special needs of mentally ill children, they do harm.

    I hope they fall in line and actually help your son with his short remaining time with them.

    Are you going to wait and see what they do or file the complaint now?
     
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, JJJ! I had to vent about it all last night. I got so frustrated when they basicly said he was on an IEP for behavior and that they acknowledged that he had an ED, but they didn't normally deal with mental health issues so whether or not the previous neuropsychologist test results revealed anything like cognitive or memory issues, and whether or not there was a problem with his grades reflecting ability, they just didn't see a reason to change anything. And wasn't I happy that his behavior is so much better this year- and what did I think the school had done to improve that behavior. I said "nothing at all". When asked, then how did I account for his great improvement- I said "switching from prozac to mood stabilizers- now, what can be done at school to help him in the other areas of his disability that affect his abilities at school?"

    I guess that was the rest of my vent.

    As far as what I'm going to do- I'm not sure. The complaint would need to be filed within the next few days if I want the stuff they did last spring to be reviewed, too. Being able to submit that info would really help to show a consistent resistence to helping these kids- or at least mine. I doubt if we're the only family in this school district that has had to go through this though. Apparetnyl, they weren't so accommodating to kids with autism either, until they lost a couple of court cases. Now they have a autism specialist on board for the district. My position was, they should go ahead and get a specialist on board who has an expertise in mood disorders because "well, look at the high percentage of kids diagnosis'd with adhd that they think might really be BiPolar (BP)". She said I had a point!
     
  4. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    What a line. Just when I think I've heard them all.
     
  5. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    What does the IEP say about mental health services as a related service?

    If it is not in the IEP then the school district does not have to do anything but considering what the problems are, these services SHOULD be there. If they are not, ask for an IEP meeting to consider revisions.

    Martie
     
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hi, Martie! The IEP doesn't say anything about mental health services- but that is not what I am requesting from them. His IEP is primarily written for behavior- with goals and objectives for behavior. He currently has no BIP but his behavior has been pretty good this year so that is not a primary concern.

    My concern is that 1) the IEP includes accommodations that are not being done- for instance, the "safe place" option if difficult child is hyper or agitated- this has not been done once. 2) reduced homework in periods of stress or problem periods- this has not been done with one exception- there is one teacher that, on her own, will change his grade for an assignment when I let her know he has had a meltdown 3) they are supposed to initial his planner to confirm that assignments are written down so that I can know what is expected at home- that is done approximately 25% of the time

    In addition to that, there are inconsistent, and blatantly false, statements being documented in his school record. I can prove that and even the ed spec. and middle school director of Special Education saw part of it and agreed that it is reason to be concerned. And there are many (teachers and administrators) who act like if behavior is fine, then why is he on an IEP- never mind that his grades show a real problem. And, there are people over there ((teachers and administrators) who seem to be so scared of the word "bipolar" that they create problems and handle things in a way that will only trigger mania in difficult child- maybe they are just alarmist.

    But what concerns me the most, is that in spite of the evidence they have (real evidence) that difficult child needs accommodations (reduced homework at times, safe place, etc), they indirectly said that since bipolar is a mental health issue, that the school district didn't get involved except as it relates to behavior. in my humble opinion- when there are neuropsychologist results that clearly indicate certain weaknesses, which are consistent with publications put out by the CABF, and are indicative of difficult child's weaknesses this year, and when it is a known fact that a disability is not limited to "physical" disabilities- they are required by law to give him an education the same as a diabetic, or autistic child, or anyone else. Furthermore, if bipolar is a chemical imabalance in the brain- then is it not physical?

    I am imploding over their attitude that even though his grades in all academic core classes are indicative of a patterned problem and the supportive proof is there that this is indicative of BiPolar (BP), they are trying to offer 2 scenarios- 1) if his behavior were to continue to be problematic, he would go to a school for the severely behavior impaired or 2) if his behavior continues being good, then they are happy and take him off the iep. They will either ignore the "F"'s or change his grades to passing grades.

    Last year there was an FBA, BIP, and manifestation determination after he had become manic. An assistant administrator determined all of these- including that the final act "was not a result of his disability" (it was a no brainer that it was). His BIP was a contract that she wrote stating if he committed another school violation, he would be removed from school. I refused to sign- they did it anyway.

    My position is that they do not have people who are qualified as required by IDEA to "interpret how the specific disability affects the students education" (or something like that. So, I have asked for a specialist in mood disorders to come and give a little training. I'm sorry if it stepped on anyone's toes. But I have listened to absurd statements from them- like "he can't have this problem, he's smart" long enough. And, if someone sees red on a notebook (he takes art )- it must be blood- it couldn't possibly be paint like he told them it was- even though he was not, nor any other child around him that day- bleeding. And I have watched them make things worse instead of better long enough and it is time for them to change a few things. in my humble opinion
     
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I just want to add- my anger and frustration aten't directed toward you Martie- or anyone else on this board. You guys have given me an outlet and advice that I don't think I could make it through all this without. My anger is toward the school district. They have done so much more over the past three years- starting when my kid was 10yo sitting in class picking at his arm until he had blood running down it and they wrote him up and called me only to say "he disrupted class AGAIN". I have had it with them.
     
  8. SaraT

    SaraT New Member

    This is just MHO, but it sounds like the school district has their collective heads up their collective b..Tourette's Syndrome. I have had this very problem for years. I talked to an advocate, had the advocate come with me to IEP meeting, and all of a sudden school district is "kissing my rear" trying to do everything I ask. An advocate seems to give school district's a wake up call. If you use an advocate and still get nowhere with school district, the advocate can help you go to next step. I would have the advocate at any IEP meeting to help, and be another witness to how the school is behaving.

    My situation was similar in that difficult child has high IQ, but very immature in every other way. She has mood disorder like your difficult child, and your right, the schools just don't get it and are afraid of it. Luckily my difficult child also has Aspergers, which means they do have to help her. Only took us 6 years to figure out she had Aspergers.:rolleyes:

    Hang in there. I'll let you borrow my armor.:warrior:

    Hugs,

    Sara
     
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Sara! I am so naive when it comes to advocates- do you just find someone and walk into an IEP meeting introducing them as an advocatae- or do you need to be prepared to affer advocate's expertise (attny, psychiatric, any formal training, etc)? The Special Education attny I consulted gave me the name of a "Mom" and he said she is an advocate, but I'm not sure the school district would give anymore wieght to what she says if they can say "oh, it's just another parent".
     
  10. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    There is no licensure for advocates nor formal training for that matter. I have had people ask me "how did I become one?" The answer is, "Call yourself one." I am a professional in the field and have a Ph.D., so it is unlikely that my credentials will be questioned and I have qualified as an expert witness in court which is more difficult. However, it is knowledge of the law, not credentials that make a good advocate. There are many parents on this board who have learned enough to be "advocates" for other people's children. by the way, it is easier when the difficult child is not your own. That said, I agree that by age, education, an occupation, I am in a better position to "intimidate" than a young parent. However, a good advocate does not try to intimidate school personnel. A good advocate helps the parent get FAPE for the child and operates in the best interest of the child only.

    How to find an advocate is also a bit loose: in CA, it's big business with advocates galore in the yellow pages and charging about half as much as attorneys. In MD, it used to be that advocates could not represent parents at Due Process--which is just a bar card turf issue in my opinion--but since the Supreme Court found last June that parents can represent themselves and their child in Federal Court, I think Maryland's law is not going to be enforceable anymore.

    Speaking personally, I will not represent a family at Due Process. In IL, where I do all of my in-person advocacy, the process is VERY legalized. In IL, a parent needs and attorney to go to DP in my opinion. In other states, DP is more as it was intended: a non-legalized way to settle disputes and keep families and SDs OUT OF COURT. In urban areas, it has not worked out that way. It is also my belief that an advocate can sometimes get a better IEP than an attorney, although I know several attorneys in Chicago who were teachers before they went to law school and they, of course, can write good IEPs also.

    Bottom line is if you do not know your rights, the school district will walk all over you. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and the purpose of this section of the Board is to help people learn how to squeak effectively.

    I do not think ANYONE should go to an IEP meeting alone and followed my own advice. I took my husband, who knew nothing about the law, but he too diligent notes, was dressed in a suit, and looked sufficiently intimidating to keep the meeting a bit balanced He was also very good at listening and picking up internal contradictions: person A says one thing and it is contradicted by person B a half an hour later. I always thought that there was a good deal of sexism operating: the school district tended to defer to my husband over me because I handled all the day-to day stuff and was therefore, "just a mom."

    RE: your situation. I think your school district is grossly violating the law: the distinction between "mental health" and behavior is false. I would call having a "safe place" or a "safe person" a mental health service. I train grad students to provide mental health services in schools. There is NO prohibition vs mental health services UNLESS they are provided by a physician. Medical services may be provided at school district expense ONLY for diagnostic purposes.

    You should have an IEP that addresses your child's special needs. The purpose of special education is to provide enough support for (most) children to make progress in the Gen Ed curriculum. Further, SpEd is supposed to help students attain independence as adults. That goal is not being met for EBD students very well.

    I think you need to stop believing what the school district says is the law and find out what the law actually says. Why parents make effective advocates, despite their lack of objectivity about their own child, is BECAUSE NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE CHILD AS MUCH AS THE PARENT.

    Martie
     
  11. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    A few thoughts for you:

    Does your school or school district have a psychologist on staff? In my experience, most SDs have a psychologist they bring to IEP meetings in which an ED is involved. Obviously, school psycholgists are trained in mental health issues (they're not always terrific psychologists, but they do know the range of mental health issues).

    In terms of an advocate, check out the website www.copaa.com. The website has a list of advocates by state. I personally believe you need one now because it's not just about the school your difficult child is in now. Generally, the kinds of issues you're dealing with don't magically disappear, and he's going to need an IEP when he goes to high school as well.

    Finally, the word "behavior" is being interpreted very strictly by your school district. In psychological terms, "behavior" means the response of a person to a stimulus. "Behavior" is not only about acting out. "Behavior" includes shutting down. My son, for example, is not a "behavior problem" in school in that he does not talk back to teachers, act aggressively toward classmates, or disrupt classroom proceedings. However, because of his emotional disability, he shuts down and won't do his work when stressed by time constraints, pressure from teachers or frustration over challenging concepts. This is behavior just the way acting out is behavior.

    I thought our school district was bad. Yours takes the cake.
     
  12. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    Smallworld said what I was trying to say what I did about mental health much more clearly.

    I would suggest you look at he EBD classification and see the five qualifiers: only one is needed and of of the five speaks directly to mood and another to relationships in school. Neither of these is captured by "behaviorism."

    Martie
     
  13. tee2

    tee2 New Member

    Hi Klmno,

    I noticed you're in Virginia; any chance you're in the N. Va. area? The way you write about your school district, I'd swear you were writing about my school district!
     
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