Sunday, December 19, 2010

Squirrel Babies' Siblings

Removal of Conditions

I approved the draft IEP that removes the conditions from my son's IEP.  Sadly, I'm stuck agreeing to a lesser condition, and I don't know how to get around it.  The STEM Program requires students to work in groups quite a lot, so an accommodation could impact my son's teammates.  This wouldn't  be right, and I agree with that.  So now his IEP no longer says that he can have the accommodation as long as it doesn't compromise the rigor of STEM; instead, it says that he can have it as long as it doesn't impact his peers or it isn't the teaching point.
  • [He] should receive chunking of long-term assignments and reminders of upcoming due dates for each segment of the assignment, with extensions of due dates as needed. Extensions for assignments will be provided for all independent instructional and testing assignments and activities that do not impact his peers' ability to complete their assignment or activity in the specified time allotted.
  • Open-ended or extended tasks should be broken down with more specified directions and steps. This will be done for independent instructional assignments and activities that are not part of a group assignment requiring group members to break down the assignment or activity as part of their "group" grade. 
Then as I wrote the above, I realized that I had to rescind the approval.  I wrote the following to the IEP Chairperson and Supervisor of Special Education at my son's school:
I just re-read the rephrasing on the accommodations.  I've got a fundamental problem, and I don't know that it's limited to Special Education.  Here's the thing:  The phrasing on the first accommodation, which is still a condition, by the way, doesn't allow [my son] to have an extension if the group needs the assignment/activity.  However, students in the STEM program who don't have an IEP frequently come to class without their work completed, even when it's group work, thus impacting [my son] and their other teammates.  Now, perhaps those students take a hit on their grades, but I don't know about that, and I've seen repeatedly over the past couple of years that if students can't get it done, they come to class, say they couldn't get it done, and the whole assignment gets a pushed-back due date!  It seems to me that this phrasing makes it forbidden for [my son] but allows others to do so with impunity.  (It's now also a broad condition that impacts [my son] in Social Studies and Language Arts.)

In addition to the above "fairness" issue, I've got a legal question.  While I agree that [my son] needs to do the work in a timely fashion, the phrasing is still a condition, and I'm asking you to verify that it isn't illegal to have such a phrasing on an IEP.  I'm asking the same for the much-watered-down-but-still-a-condition phrasing of the second accommodation.

I'm really sorry that I didn't catch why I was so uncomfortable with these phrasings before I said that they were okay.  When I read them the first time, they made a certain kind of sense, and I also didn't process that these are still conditions.  The phrasings are okay if they're legal, but they make me uneasy.

Therefore, I need something in writing from the Department of Special Education saying that they have been checked out, and by whom, and that they are legal.  Please advise me if stating this request in this manner is or isn't enough to make that happen.

Again, I'm sorry I wasn't able to figure out what was bothering me earlier.

Thank you.
I don't know what will come of it, but I surely want it in writing.  I've been treated to inaction, lies, and threats in the past; I can't afford to let it continue if there's any question about the legality.

And What Happened After That

I had met with the Supervisor of Special Education for my son's school after the initial IEP meeting to remove the conditions.  The Supervisor had ever-so-gently taken me to task for the tone of my daily emails to the school team regarding my son's pack-up for the day (what he brought home, what he didn't bring home, what he wasn't able to explain, what didn't have due dates, what was signed off, what wasn't, etc.).  I truly believe that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but eventually, I lost that perspective.  Four years of little progress on the pack-up procedure makes for some mighty stale honey.  (At one point this school year, my Facebook status read, "Don't you just love having to be obnoxious to get your child what he needs at school?  Not.")

I should point out that I didn't ask for the Supervisor of Special Education to become involved in the situation; someone on the school team must have requested her presence.  At no time during the honeyed past of lack of progress has the Supervisor involved herself.  (Nice person, the Supervisor, just not involved until recently.)

As I said, I was taken to task, and I sent an apology to the team:
I need to apologize for the tone of my "Day __ Pack-up" messages.  My intent was to log what did/didn't happen with packing up; I regret that the manner of logging that information may have caused a rift in the team.  While my sense of urgency hasn't declined, I'll try to replenish my stock of patience as we work to address [my son's] needs.
Who knows if that was enough to mend the relationship on their end.  I know that tomorrow will be the 71st day of this school year and we're still "working on" the procedure -- a procedure that, by law, is supposed to be in place by the start of the school year.  So really, who owes whom an apology?

Cool FB App.

My Girl

My daughter competed in a Robotics Competition yesterday as part of her STEM5 program.  It was an incredibly stressful set-up, and there was a hugely disappointing snafu with her team's programs.  She went into overload and "withdrew" from those parts of the day; however, she was able to participate very well during the other sections during the day.  Her team tied for 2nd place for Teamwork.  I hope she learns from the snafu and remembers the positives.

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